WILKES-BARRE — When Brea Seabrook turned two staight turnovers into baskets during a frenzied stretch of a District 2 girls basketball semifinal game, it did more than give GAR its first lead.
It made the Grenadiers believe they could pull themselves into the district title game by pulling off an upset.
“I definitely thought we could do this,” GAR senior Marena Spence said. “We started to talk to each other more, started to work together.
“We’re a hard team when we work together.”
In the end, it didn’t work out for GAR. Alyssa Alfano answered the Grenadiers’ surge with seven straight points in the fourth quarter and Holy Cross survived an unexpected test 49-42 to reach the Class 2A finals in a gritty playoff game at Holy Redeemer High School.
But faltering at the end of their spirited upset bid hardly dampened GAR’s spirit.
“I’m very proud of the girls,” said GAR coach Hattie Caruso, whose 13-11 team will now play for third place in the District 2 field and for the chance to move on to its first PIAA Class 2A tournament appearance since 2008. “We can only look forward to the future of the GAR program.”
Nothing about the game’s first 14 minutes looked bright for GAR.
Emily Rinco buried a pair of three-pointers the first quarter and Katie Purcell scored six points in the second as Holy Cross bolted to a commanding 22-8 lead.
“In the first half, we missed too many layups,” Caruso said.
But suddenly, the Grenadiers started hitting on all cylinders.
Spence took off on a six-point spree and Seabrook added a bucket just 22 seconds before halftime as GAR ended the second quarter on an eight-point run that cut the Holy Cross lead to eight.
When the second half began, GAR was still chopping away at its deficit.
The Grenadiers rattled 19-6 Holy Cross with a tenacious press defense that forced quick turnovers off the inbounds passes, and momentum turned quickly.
Spence and Seabrook both scored eight points in the third quarter, and Seabrook’s final two baskets in succession gave GAR its first lead, 28-27 midway through the third period.
“Second half, we told them to pick it up — more intensity, aggressiveness and just go after every ball,” Caruso said.
Holy Cross snatched the game back, though.
Bre Mosier’s three-point play gave GAR its last lead, 35-34, with 5:34 to play. Then Alfano flurried with seven straight points and Gab Giordano scored the last seven of her game-high 18 points from the foul line as Holy Cross hung on to a spot in the district finals by keeping GAR at bay down the stretch.
“They worked their team well. They’re a great team,” Caruso said.
Which only left the Grenadiers wondering how great they would have felt if they’d pulled out victory.
“We just had bad communication at the end,” Spence said. “It’s definitely disappointing. We knew what was coming, we worked on this at practice.
“We definitely thought we were going to win.”
Holy Cross (49): Emily Rinco 3 0-0 8, Rachel Merrit 1 0-0 3, Gab Giordano 4 9-13 18, Olivia Kosin 1 3-4 5, Katie Purcell 4 0-0 8, Lindsey Dipres 0 0-0 0, Nina Mucciolo 0 0-0 0, Carrie Kobrynich 0 0-0 0, Kristen Woznak 0 0-0 0, Kate McDonnell 0 0-0 0, Rachel Calvey 0 0-0 0, Alyssa Alfano 3 0-0 7. Totals 16 12-17 49.
GAR (42): Bre Mosier 2 1-1 5, Julianna Leco 0 2-2 2, Marena Spence 5 6-6 16, Brea Seabrook 7 1-2 15, Marie Skrepenak 0 0-0 0, Majeedah Nealy 2 0-2 4. Totals 16 10-13 42.
3-point field goals— HC 5 (Rinco 2, Merrit, Giordano, Alfano); GAR 0