BETHLEHEM — It was the same old story for the Wyoming Valley Conference — a District 2 state qualifier ran into the best District 1 had to offer.
Villa Maria scored nine of the final 13 points to end Holy Redeemer’s season 44-40 in the PIAA Class 3A girls basketball second round Wednesday at Freedom High School.
“We played extremely hard and left it all on the floor,” Redeemer coach Chris Parker said. “We had an extremely successful season. I feel upset for the seniors, but for the younger girls, the future is bright.”
Both defenses bogged down the opposing offenses, creating a game that went down to the final seconds. The contest featured eight lead changes and seven ties, with neither team leading by more than five throughout.
The Royals (21-8) were solid in their halfcourt defense, holding Villa to 31 percent shooting in the game. The Hurricanes (23-5) forced 12 turnovers in the first half, many on passes ticketed for Redeemer’s leading scorer, Alexis Lewis.
“Defensively we played well,” Hurricanes coach Kathy McCartney said. “We knew Lewis was their top player. Jackie (Carlin) did a great job (five steals) against her until she got into foul trouble.”
Villa led 23-19 at the half, but Redeemer scored the first four points of the third quarter to knot it at 23. Everything the Hurricanes did seemed to be quickly answered by the Royals. Or vice versa.
• Hurricane senior Lisa Mirarchi’s jumper from the wing was followed by Alyssa Platko’s layup.
• A Mirarchi runner over Lewis was erased by a Lewis layup.
• Redeemer’s Alana Wilson nailed a three-pointer on a kickout pass from Lydia Lawson (her third consecutive assist), only to see Carlin answer for Villa.
“We were right where we needed to be,” Parker said. “We had a three-point lead (30-27 midway through the third). But we had a couple of turnovers and a miss or two. If we could have moved forward from the three-point lead, it might have been different at the end.”
Katie Mooney, who came off the bench for four points late in the first half for the Hurricanes, added a backbreaking bucket early in the fourth. Her short jumper made it 39-36 with six minutes to go, and after a Redeemer miss, allowed Villa to go into a stall.
“We started to gamble at the end, going for steals,” Parker said. “And we did get a couple there. This team is a very, very good free-throw shooting team. They made something like 20-of-21 their last game.”
The drama grew as Villa, a 70-percent shooting team from the free-throw line, missed the front end of 1-and-1s on consecutive trips to the line with its lead stuck at 41-38. When Molly Namiotka missed her first of two with 22 seconds left, McCartney had to do something.
“Everyone’s saying ‘you called timeout to ice your own shooter,’” McCartney said. “I didn’t want, if she did miss, to give up a three. We weren’t really ready for it. But I knew she’d make the shot.”
Namiotka made the second to extend the lead to 42-38. Lawson made a little leaner with 6.9 seconds remaining, but two free throws by Mirarchi put the game away.
“We battled. We didn’t have the best night, but at this time of year it’s not about style points,” McCartney said. “We knew they were in four trouble down the stretch. Lewis had four. We knew they couldn’t do anything against us.”
Lewis had 13 points, 13 rebounds, three assists, five steals and two blocks. Platko added 11 points, and Lawson had five assists while helping the Royals take care of the ball — they had just four turnovers in the second half.
Carlin had 14 points and seven rebounds for Villa. Mararchi led the way with 17 points.
Villa Maria advances to play Scranton Prep in the state quarterfinals Saturday.
VILLA MARIA (44): Devon Tirney 0 0-0 0, Jackie Carlin 6 2-3 14, Molly Namiotka 1 1-2 3, Lisa Mirarchi 5 6-7 17, Mora Fetterolf 1 2-4 4, Katie Mooney 2 2-2 6, Lexi Daggett 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 13-18 44.
HOLY REDEEMER (40): Alexis Lewis 6 0-0 13, Alana Wilson 2 0-0 6, Alyssa Platko 5 1-2 11, Lydia Lawson 3 0-0 6, Sara Altemose 1 0-0 2, Chelsea Skrepenka 0 0-0 0, Sara Warnagiris 0 2-2 2, Brianne Frascella 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 3-4 40.
Villa Maria1112129— 44
Holy Redeemer118156— 40
Three-point goals: VM 1 (Mirarchi); HR 3 (Wilson 2, Lewis).