YATESVILLE — Holy Redeemer had suddenly run out of room. As the second half wound down, the Royals found themselves swarmed by Hornets.
By the time Redeemer finally found some space at the end of Wednesday’s District 2 Class 3A semifinal game, it was too late. A potential game-tying three-pointer in the final seconds was just off the mark, and the Royals dropped a 56-53 decision to defending champion Honesdale at Pittston Area High School.
The loss ended the second-seeded Royals’ quest for a district title but not their season. Redeemer is still alive for the district’s third and final bid to the PIAA Class 3A tournament and will face Pittston Area on Saturday in the third-place game. A time and site will likely be set today.
“I’m extremely, extremely proud of my girls and what they’ve done this year and how far they’ve come,” Royals coach Chris Parker said. “These girls are all young. I mean, this team will be together for the next two years. Our time will come.
“We’ve just got to keep plugging away. And our season is not over.”
No. 6 Honesdale, meanwhile, will go for back-to-back D2 championships when the Hornets take on top-seeded Scranton Prep on Saturday. Both teams have clinched berths in the state tournament.
It was the second straight round where the Hornets knocked off a higher-seeded squad from the Wyoming Valley Conference. Honesdale had raced past No. 3 Dallas in the quarterfinals, scoring 74 points against the Mountaineers.
But Honesdale was going to need to rely on defense to win this one.
Down 34-28 at halftime, the Hornets stunned the Royals with a 12-2 run out of the locker room.
“I thought what hurt us was that third quarter,” Parker said. “We were a little bit sluggish in that third quarter coming out of the half.”
Honesdale held the Royals to 19 points in the second half after Redeemer had opened the game with 21 in the first quarter.
Hornets coach Tracy Ludwig said an in-game switch to man defense was the spark her team needed.
“The first quarter, we came out and played a zone, and we realized that wasn’t going to cut it tonight,” Ludwig said. “We came out (in the second) and played a little bit of man and realized that they didn’t like to be pushed around. So guess what? We’re going to keep pushing around and get in your face. And it worked.”
Redeemer didn’t hit a field goal in the fourth quarter until Alana Wilson drained a three with 1:08 to play, cutting the Royals’ deficit to 52-51.
The teams traded buckets to make it 54-53 as the Royals called timeout with 41.6 seconds left. Senior Sara Altemose nearly came up with a steal on the Hornets’ third try on an inbounds play but collected the ball out of bounds.
Finally breaking the press, Honesdale got an easy layup at the other end to go back up by three. With time ticking down, freshman Lydia Lawson’s shot from behind the arc wouldn’t fall at the other end, sending the Hornets through to the title game.
Katie Miller had 19 points to lead Honesdale.
Alexis Lewis topped the Royals with 19 points. Wilson added 14 while Alyssa Platko finished with 13.
“We had some crucial turnovers late in that second half trying to enter the ball into the post to Alexis,” Parker said. “I get it that she’s the best player, but sometimes when she’s being double-teamed, you gotta reverse the basketball and another kid’s gotta step up.
“We tried to force the ball to her on a few possessions that I thought killed us.”
HONESDALE (56): Mary Martin 4 3-4 11, Morgan Birmelin 5 0-0 13, Katie Miller 7 3-6 19, Natasha Hessling 3 0-0 6, Katelynn Pfeil 1 0-0 2, Libby Rickard 0 0-0 0, Taylor Parenti 2 1-2 5. Totals 22 7-12 56.
HOLY REDEEMER (53): Alexis Lewis 8 2-4 19, Alana Wilson 5 0-0 14, Alyssa Platko 4 5-6 13, Lydia Lawson 1 0-0 2, Sara Altemose 1 0-0 3, Chelsea Skrepenak 0 0-0 0, Sara Warnagiris 0 0-0 0, Brianne Frascella 1 0-0 2. Totals 20 7-10 53.
Honesdale 13 15 18 10 — 56
Holy Redeemer 21 13 10 9 — 53
3-point field goals— HON 5 (Birmelin 3, Miller 2); HR 6 (Lewis, Wilson 4, Altemose)