PLYMOUTH – If you are only going to lead in a game for 10 seconds, it’s best that they are the final 10 seconds.
That’s what Holy Redeemer did, using two huge stickbacks by Alyssa Platko in the final 35 seconds to down Nanticoke 45-43 in the WVC Division II girls basketball championship game Friday at Wyoming Valley West.
“We all knew it was going to be a good game,” Platko said. “Each of us had won once. But after not being in the lead the whole game, it’s great.”
“I’m speechless,” Royals coach Chris Parker said. “What a game. We were kind of off early in the game, but I told them to keep fighting.”
Platko put home a miss by Alana Wilson with 10 seconds remaining to give Holy Redeemer a 44-43 lead. She also followed an Alexis Lewis missed free throw to make it cut the Royals deficit to one on the previous possession.
The junior finished with eight points and seven rebounds.
“I had a slow start in the beginning, so I knew I had to play better later in the game,” Platko said of her timely work on the offensive glass. “I had to battle for the ball, and I just had to gather myself more and use the (back) board.”
The Royals struggled throughout this one but overcame the adversity to lock up the No. 2 seed in the District 2 Class 3A tournament next week. They opened the game with six turnovers, a missed 5-footer and an air ball on another short jumper in their first eight possessions as Nanticoke scored the game’s first nine points.
Wilson finally broke through on Redeemer’s ninth possession, drilling a three-pointer from the right wing. But the Royals were forced to play catch-up most of the night.
“We have started slow quite a bit this year,” Parker said. “Obviously, if you’re going to start slow, you’ve got to play defense. You’ve got to stop the other team from scoring.”
They did, holding Nanticoke to 36 percent shooting from the field, including 18 percent from behind the arc.
Redeemer trailed throughout, knotting the game at 26 on a Lewis layup with 2:40 to play in the third, but Nanticoke scored 13 of the next 19 points to regain a seven-point edge at 39-32 with 5:45 to play.
Kayley Schinski had nine points in the first quarter on her way to a 21-point, six rebound night for Nanticoke. Her three-pointer from the left wing gave the Trojanettes back the momentum after the Royals had clawed back to 26-26.
“We got the game into the situation we wanted,” Trojanettes coach Alan Yendrzeiwski said of reestablishing a seven-point lead in the fourth quarter. “We forced them to foul, but we missed the front end on a lot of 1-and-1s or missed the back end. We couldn’t get a stop, we couldn’t get a rebound at the end.”
It was the play, or lack thereof, of Brittany Sugalski, that opened the door for Redeemer. Sugalski was an integral part of Nanticoke’s suffocating defense, which forced 10 turnovers in the first quarter. But the senior picked up her third foul with nearly six minutes left in the first half.
The ballhawking guard, who spent a lot of time harassing the high-scoring Lewis, fouled out with 6:10 remaining in the game, getting called for a push on what would have otherwise been another turnover by the Royals.
With Sugalski relegated to the bench to close out each half, Redeemer outscored Nanticoke 22-10 when she wasn’t on the floor.
“Her being in foul trouble like that changed everything,” Yendrzeiwski said. “Lauren (Rinehimer) and Deanna (Thomas) did a great job coming in, but Brittany is the best defender in the WVC. It’s tough to replace that.”
Lewis spread out her scoring while earning a double-double with 24 points and 13 rebounds. Point guard Lydia Lawson finished with eight assists for the Royals.
Chelsea Skrepenak 0 0-0 0, Alexis Lewis 9 4-9 24, Alana Wilson 3 1-4 8, Alyssa Platko 3 2-2 8, Lydia Lawson 0 0-1 0, Sarah Warnagaris 2 1-1 5, Sara Altemose 0 0-0 0. Totals: 17 8-17 45.
Sara Higgins 2 0-0 5, Alex Brassington 0 0-0 0, Brittany Sugalski 0 2-2 2, Kayley Schinski 8 3-4 21, Kassie Schinski 0 1-2 1, Lauren Rinehimer 1 2-5 4, Heidi Kile 2 4-5 8, Deanna Thomas 1 0-2 2. Totals: 14 12-20 43.
— HR 3 (Lewis 2, Wilson); NAN 3 (Kay. Schinski 2, Higgins)