Gibbons, Smicherko, Cwalina take Valley West to girls basketball title

By Paul Sokoloski - [email protected] | February 13th, 2017 11:20 pm - updated: 11:52 pm.

Paul Sokoloski Spartans celebrate WVC title

VIDEO

To see video of Wyoming Valley West’s WVC Division 1-clinching victory celebration over Crestwood, visit timesleader.com.

PLYMOUTH — For years, the Wyoming Valley West Spartans desperately tried to duplicate the success they once shared as freshmen, only to find frustration and disappointment.

Not this season.

Not if three seniors from that unbeaten District 2 championship freshman team of yesteryear had a say in the matter.

And they all did.

Erin Gibbons scored 20 points Monday, Gabby Smicherko and Colleen Cwalina combined for 23 more and Valley West used a gritty, fourth-quarter performance by all three to pull out a 51-42 victory over Crestwood, and along with it the Wyoming Valley Conference Division 1 girls basketball championship.

“It’s the first time we’ve done it, as a group,” said Smicherko, who finished with 15 points and two critical steals in the game’s final 90 seconds. “It’s pretty exciting.”

The victory, which came on Senior Night at the Valley West gym, also assured the Spartans —17-4 overall and 13-2 in Division 1 — the top seed in Class 5A over Crestwood (13-7 overall, 9-5 in Division) and West Scranton (12-6 entering Monday) for the start of next week’s District 2 playoffs.

“It’s a great feeling,” Gibbons said, “especially on Senior Night. Because it’s our last time playing here.”

The Spartans’ trio of senior stalwarts made one last stand, just in time.

Tied 37-37 entering the final quarter, Gibbons, Cwalina and Smicherko hit unanswered baskets in succession, with Smicherko’s layup giving Valley West a six-point lead with 4:09 remaining.

Then the three wrapped up the title from the foul line with a combined seven free throws over the last few minutes. Gibbons made three, while Cwalina and Smicherko each sank two to tie down their first varsity league title.

“Finally got one,” said Cwalina, who along with Gibbons and Smicherko sparked the Spartans to a 21-0 freshman season four years ago. “It was a team effort. That’s the only way you can win it.”

The Comets made Valley West dig deep.

They ripped off an early 9-2 lead, and after the pure shooting of Gibbons and Smicherko brought Valley West into a two-point lead after the first quarter, Crestwood’s defense took over.

The Spartans didn’t score in the second quarter until Gibbons buried her third 3-pointer of the first half just 78 seconds from intermission. And by then, Crestwood had control — as eight points from both Kate Snipas and Julia Makowski sent the Comets to a 26-23 lead entering the second half.

Then things changed a bit — starting with Valley West’s defense.

The Spartans switched up from a man-to-man defense and drew Crestwood’s cutting scorers away from the basket by moving into a zone.

“I was concerned,” said Valley West’s second-year varsity coach Gary Ferenchick, who guided the freshman team through that perfect 2013-14 season. “Crestwood likes to attack the basket, and they’re good at doing it. Going to the 2-3 zone, I was trying to force them to make some outside shots. I think we moved them away from the basket a little bit.”

Meanwhile, the seniors got the Spartans on the move.

Gibbons and Smicherko each scored four points in the third quarter as Valley West began turning momentum, and only a three-point play by Ally Muse and two free throws from Makowski four seconds from the end of the period rallied the Comets into a tie with a quarter to play.

That’s when Valley West’s upperclassmen made their final stand.

Cwalina scored four of her eight points over the final eight minutes, Smicherko also hit four points in the final period and Gibbons, as usual, led the way with five.

“We started off slow a little,” Gibbons said. “But we wanted this really bad. We all came together and got the job done.”

The job wasn’t quite finished.

Right after the game, the Spartans gathered around and stepped up on a ladder — one by one — to cut down the net. And cut a path they are convinced will take them back in time, when they proved as first-year players to be the most dominant team in District 2.

“This is so much more,” Ferenchick said of the league title. “That was a great season by off of them when they were in ninth grade. But this is a great bunch of kids, from the first one all the way down to the JV players. It means everything, That was one of our goals in the beginning of the season. They all did a great job to make that happen.

“I’m so proud of them, and so happy for these players.”

Northwest 51,

Meyers 46

Reagan Harris scored a game-high 27 points as Northwest won its first-ever WVC championship by besting the Mohawks to take the Division 3 title.

The game was tied 21 at halftime, but the Rangers outscored Meyers 30-25 to hold on for the victory.

Breanna Babcock chipped in with 19 points for Northwest, which finished at 10-4 in league play and secured the top spot for the District 2 Class A playoffs with a 15-7 overall record. Meyers fell two games behind in Division 3 at 7-6 with a game remaining in its regular season — before entering the District 2 Class 2A playoffs next week.

Meyers’ Bella Skaff scored a team-high 16 points.

Holy Redeemer 59,

Wyoming Area 56

Julia Andrejko scored 12 points and Samantha Rajza added 11 as the Royals held off the Warriors and moved a half-game in front of Nanticoke Area at 14-1 at the top of the WVC Division 2.

Nanticoke Area, which is 13-1 in league play, will face Tunkhannock at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday.

Irelyn Jannuzzi had 10 points for Holy Redeemer.

Wyoming Area’s Cassidy Orzel and Addison Orzel shared game-high honors with 16 points apiece.

Hazleton Area 72,

Pittston Area 69

Maddie Mrochko scored a game-high 27 points as Hazleton Area defeated Pittston Area.

Kendra Pfeil scored 18 and Virginia Yurchak had 13 for the Cougars.

Alexa Noone scored 25 and Kirsten Durling had 18 for Pittston Area.

Wyoming Seminary 57,

GAR 33

Alex Wesneski scored 22 points and MT Lehman added 10 as the Blue Knights defeated GAR.

Olivia Adophus paced GAR with 19.

Dallas 52,

Coughlin 17

Maddie Kelley scored nine of her team-high 10 points in the opening quarter as Dallas took control early in its victory over Coughlin.

Sara Lojewski added seven for Dallas. Emily Cicon scored 10 for Coughlin.

Berwick 50,

Lake-Lehman 40

Roni Isenberg scored 14 and Tori Talanca netted 10 to pace Berwick’s win.

Savannah Purdy had 10 for Lake-Lehman.

GIRLS BASKETBALL

Wyoming Valley West 51, Crestwood 42

CRESTWOOD (42) — Andrea Shipton 2 0-2 4, Sarah Hopkins 3 0-0 6, Kate Snipas 3 0-0 8, Sarah Richards 0 0-0 0, Julia Makowski 5 6-6 17, Riley Magin 0 0-0 0, Ally Muse 3 1-1 7. Totals 16 7-9 42.

WYOMING VALLEY WEST (51) — Erin Gibbons 6 5-6 20, Natalie Gruver 1 2-4 4, Katie Johnson 0 0-0 0, Gabby Smicherko 6 2-2 15, Colleen Cwalina 3 2-2 8, Katie Mackiewicz 1 0-0 2, Andi Blaski 0 2-2 2, Toni Amato 0 0-0 0, Sidney Scarcella 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 13-16 51.

Crestwood`16`10`11`5`—`42

Wyoming Valley West`18`5`14`14`—`51

Three-point goals — CRE 3 (Snipas 2, Makowski); WVW 4 (Gibbons 3, Smicherko).

Northwest 51, Meyers 46

MEYERS (46) — Bella Gray 0 0-0 0, Erin Morris 4 2-4 11, Amanda Gray 1 2-4 4, Ashley Bruno 0 0-0 0, Stephanie Sutton 0 0-0 0, Bella Skaff 7 2-4 16, Ilequa Adams 0 0-0 0, Devon Keiper 0 0-0 0, Gianna Skaff 2 0-0 6, Selena Soto 0 0-0 0, Allycia Harris 2 3-9 7, Aracela Martinez 1 0-0 2, Sarah Bottger 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 9-21 46.

NORTHWEST (51) — Jordan Harrison 1 0-0 2, Trista Babcock 0 1-4 1, Brenna Babcock 6 7-17 19, Reagan Harrison 11 2-4 27, Megan Harvey 0 0-0 0, Brooke Harvey 0 0-0 0, Tess Edwards 0 0-0 0, Danielle Bowman 0 2-4 2, Hailey Taylor 0 0-0 0, Jackie Jones 0 0-0 0, Kendra Saxton 0 0-0 0, Lindsey Hufford 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 12-29 51.

Northwest`12`9`15`15`—`51

Meyers `11`10`12`13`—`46

Three-point goals — MEY 3 (Morris, Skaff 2); NW 3 (R. Harrison 3).

Holy Redeemer 59, Wyoming Area 56

WYOMING AREA (56) — Aleah Kranson 1 1-2 3, Sarah Holweg 2 3-4 8, Lydia Edwards 1 0-0 3, Cassidy Orzel 5 3-3 16, Katie Wolfgang 4 1-2 10, Addison Orzel 7 2-2 16. Totals 20 10-13 56.

HOLY REDEEMER (59) — Maya Kornfeld 2 1-4 5, Irelyn Jannuzzi 3 2-2 10, Julia Andrejko 5 0-0 12, Samantha Yencha 4 1-2 9, Talia Kosierowski 3 2-4 9, Samantha Rajza 5 0-5 11, Cameron Marcinkowski 1 0-0 3. Totals 23 6-17 59.

Wyo. Area `14`15`14`13`—`56

Holy Redeemer `21`11`16`11`—`59

Three-point goals — WA 4 (Holweg, Edwards, Orzel, Wolfgang); HR 7 (Jannuzzi 2, Andrejko 2, Kosierowski, Rajza, Marcinkowski).

Hazleton Area 72, Pittston Area 69

PITTSTON AREA (69) — Kirsten Durling 8 2-2 18, Mary Silinskie 0 0-0 0, Leah Hodick 2 5-6 9, Cherokee Musto 0 0-0 0, Alexa Noone 11 1-1 25, Andrtea Ruby 1 0-2 2, Taryn Ashby 3 9-10 15. Totals 25 17-21 69.

HAZLETON AREA (72) — Kendra Pfeil 5 6-11 18, Maddie Mrochko 8 8-10 27, Alexis Sheeto 1 1-1 3, Erika Book 1 0-0 2, Katiue Lupinski 0 0-0 0, Virginia Yurchak 6 0-0 13, Megan Trivelpiece 2 0-0 4, Mackenzie Jones 2 1-2 5. Totals 25 16-24 72.

Pittston Area`19`23`11`16`—`69

Hazleton Area`17`22`18`15`—`72

Three-point goals — PA 2 (Noone 2), HA 6 (Pfiel 2, Mrochko 3, Yurchak).

Wyo. Seminary 57, GAR 33

SEMINARY (57) — MT Lehman 4 0-4 10, Annemaaike Reistma 2 0-0 4, Alex Wesneski 7 5-6 22, Julia Gabriel 2 4-7 8, Brenna Satkowski 0 0-0 0, Ally Vezendy 0 0-0 0, Olivia Meuser 0 0-0 0, Mia Raneiri 4 1-2 9, Julia Iskra 1 0-2 2. Totals 20 10-29 57.

GAR (33) — Alana Germano 1 2-2 4, Olivia Adolphus 5 9-11 19, Paige Lyons 1 0-0 2, Lyann Pena 0 0-0 0, Sharleen Peratta 0 0-0 0, Cierra Taylor 4 0-0 8, Mikayla Andrezejewski 0 0-0 0. Totals 11 11-13 33.

Seminary`7`15`20`15`—`57

GAR`1`14`11`7`—`33

Three-point goals — WS 5 (Lehman 2, Wesneski 3).

Dallas 52, Coughlin 17

DALLAS (52) — Maddie Kelley 4 1-3 10, Morgan MacNeely 1 0-2 2, Haley Habrack 0 0-0 0, Hanna Johnson 2 0-0 4, Sara Lojewski 3 0-0 7, Olivia Johnson 1 0-0 3, Hailey Sobocinski 0 0-0 0, Gianna Centrella 2 0-0 5, Kendra Saba 3 0-0 6, Lauren Charlton 2 1-2 5, Samantha Michael 1 0-0 2, Samantha Kern 0 0-0 0, Maria Bednar 1 0-2 2, Hannah Doran 1 4-4 6, Angelina Allen 0 0-0 0. Totals 21 6-13 52.

COUGHLIN (17) — Emily Cicon 4 0-0 10, Abby Cicon 0 0-0 0, Ajalaya Butts 0 0-2 0, LeJune Berry 1 0-0 2, Arianna Brittingham 0 0-0 0, Molly Poray 0 0-0 0, Yansel Perez 0 0-0 0, Morgan Gayton 0 0-0 0, Courtney Wartella 0 0-0 0, Kira Meager 2 0-0 5. Totals 7 0-2 17.

Dallas`15`10`13`14`—`52

Coughlin`2`5`10`0`—`17

Three-point goals — DAL 4 (Kelley, Lojewski, Johnson, Centrella); COU 3 (ECicon 2, Meager).

Berwick 50, Lake-Lehman 40

BERWICK (50) — Reese Mensinger 4 1-4 9, Tori Talanca 4 2-4 10, Whitney Switzer 0 0-0 0, Abbey Burt 2 0-1 5, Megan Dalo 2 2-2 6, Mikayla Davis 2 2-3 6, Mallory Pinterich 0 0-0 0, Roni Isenberg 5 4-6 14 . Totals 19 11-20 50.

LEHMAN (40) — Hailey Kubiski 1 0-0 2, Sarah Salus 2 0-0 5, Jodie Salansky 0 0-0 0, Corrina Scoblick 3 0-4 7, Janelle Cawley 2 1-2 7, Savannah Purdy 3 3-6 10, Madison Borum 3 3-6 9. Totals 13 7-18 40.

Berwick`18`13`11`8`—`50

Lehman`6`14`13`7`-—`40

Three-point goals — BER 1 (Burt); LL 5 (Salus, Scoblick, Cawley 2, Purdy).

Crestwood’s Andrea Shipton defends Wyoming Valley West’s Natalie Gruver as she drives to the basket in the Wyoming Valley Conference showdown Monday night.
http://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/web1_wvw_cc1_faa-2.jpgCrestwood’s Andrea Shipton defends Wyoming Valley West’s Natalie Gruver as she drives to the basket in the Wyoming Valley Conference showdown Monday night. Fred Adams | For Times Leader
Wyoming Valley West’s Gabby Smicherko drives to the basket against Crestwood.
http://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/web1_wvw_cc2_faa-2.jpgWyoming Valley West’s Gabby Smicherko drives to the basket against Crestwood. Fred Adams | For Times Leader
Crestwood’s Sara Hopkins weaves her way between two Wyoming Valley West defenders Colleen Cwalina (42) and Gabby Smicherko on Monday.
http://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/web1_wvw_cc4_faa-2.jpgCrestwood’s Sara Hopkins weaves her way between two Wyoming Valley West defenders Colleen Cwalina (42) and Gabby Smicherko on Monday. Fred Adams | For Times Leader
Crestwood’s Julia Makowski goes to the basket against Wyoming Valley West’s Andi Blaski.
http://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/web1_wvw_cc5_faa-2.jpgCrestwood’s Julia Makowski goes to the basket against Wyoming Valley West’s Andi Blaski. Fred Adams | For Times Leader
Crestwood guard Sara Hopkins moves the ball up the court.
http://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/web1_wvw_cc6_faa-2.jpgCrestwood guard Sara Hopkins moves the ball up the court. Fred Adams | For Times Leader
WVW’s Erin Gibbons gets trapped between Crestwood’s Julia Makowski, left, and Sara Richards as she moved the ball down court. Not for long, though, as Gibbons scored 20 points and Valley West clinched the WVC Division 1 title with a 51-42 victory.
http://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/web1_wvw_cc3_faa-2.jpgWVW’s Erin Gibbons gets trapped between Crestwood’s Julia Makowski, left, and Sara Richards as she moved the ball down court. Not for long, though, as Gibbons scored 20 points and Valley West clinched the WVC Division 1 title with a 51-42 victory. Fred Adams | For Times Leader
Seniors rally WVW to WVC Division 1 title

By Paul Sokoloski

[email protected]

VIDEO

To see video of Wyoming Valley West’s WVC Division 1-clinching victory celebration over Crestwood, visit timesleader.com.

Reach Paul Sokoloski at 570-991-6392 or on Twitter @ TLPaulSokoloski

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