WILKES-BARRE- Neither team led by more than six points in four quarters of play in a battle for the final spot in the state playoffs between No. 8 Lakeland and No. 2 GAR at King’s College Scandlon Gymnasium.
The District 2 Class 2A third-place game included nine lead changes, five ties and two fan ejections.
In the end, the Lady Chiefs could not overcome a second-half surge from GAR’s Brea Seabrook and lost 50-46.
“We told her that she had to pick up the pace and intensity and just play the game that she normally plays,” GAR coach Hattie Caruso said. “That’s what she did.”
Seabrook finished with 20 points, including 18 in the second half. She also led the Grenadiers’ intense second-half play, which resulted in 32 points as opposed to just 18 in the first half.
Despite the change in tempo, Lakeland kept its composure under full-court pressure and matched the intensity of the Grenadiers.
“When a team starts to pick up the pressure, we’re used to it because of the league we play in,” Lakeland coach Pat Walton said. “We don’t have a night off.”
After the Lady Chiefs put together a 14-4 run that spanned from the end of the first half to the beginning of the third quarter to gain a 23-18 advantage, the Grenadiers kicked it into gear.
Seabrook scored seven straight points to give GAR a 26-25 lead, its first since the second quarter.
Natalie Tuffy responded with a three-pointer, her third of the night, to give the Lady Chiefs a two-point advantage.
Seabrook answered with another lay-up to tie the game at 28. After a few lead changes, Majeedah Nealy knocked down a three-pointer from the top of the key to give GAR a 35-33 lead.
Nealy’s only points of the game gave the Grenadiers the lead for good, but GAR could not pull away from the determined Lady Chiefs.
“They’re still learning the game and they’re feisty,” Walton said. “They’ll never give up.”
Kayla Agentowicz led Lakeland’s second-half attack on offense with 12 points, while Tuffy scored a team-high 15 points for Lakeland. Her late attempt at a steal when the game was essentially over also epitomized the Lady Chiefs’ effort in their final game of the season.
“They never quit and I love them for that,” Walton said. “They play hard the whole game.”
Lakeland will lose Alissa Steier, Jodie Virbitsky and Megan Tweedy to graduation , but will return a slate of underclassmen.
“We’re a young team and the playoff experience is going to help us down the road,” Walton said. “I play freshman and sophomores, so it’s going to help.”