Valley West girls basketball falls to Archbishop Wood in PIAA quarters

By Paul Sokoloski - [email protected] | March 18th, 2017 6:55 pm - updated: 8:52 pm.

BETHLEHEM — In its past two playoff games, Wyoming Valley West’s lock-down defense didn’t allow more than 32 points to either opponent.

Archbishop Wood hit that total by halftime.

The strong and fluid Vikings found the key quickly Saturday, knifing through Valley West’s zone defense while squashing a dangerous Spartans shooting attack to coast to a 61-35 victory in a PIAA Class 5A girls basketball quarterfinal game at Bethlehem Freedom High School.

“I think their movement,” Valley West coach Gary Ferenchick said hurt the Spartans most. “They just kept moving without the basketball. They got a lot of backdoors and easy layups in the beginning.”

In the opening minutes, Valley West had hope.

Spartans 6-foot center Colleen Cwalina grabbed a rebound and hit a layup for the game’s first points, and after Archbishop Wood scored nine straight points, Gabby Smicherko drained a 3-pointer to pull Valley West within 9-5 with 3:32 remaining in the first quarter.

Valley West never came as close again.

Cassie Sebold scored five of her 14 points in the first quarter and Katie May hit six of her 11 during the first eight minutes as the Vikings entered the second quarter on an eight-point run, and with a 17-5 lead.

Things didn’t get much better from there for the Spartans.

Smicherko, a senior who finished with a team-high 12 points in her final game for Valley West, swished two 3-pointers in the first half. But that made up more than half the team’s total at halftime, as Cwalina’s early layup and a 3-point goal from Andi Blaski were the only other scoring plays for the Spartans as they trailed 32-11 at the break.

“In the beginning, some of the girls were a little shell-shocked about the whole situation,” said Ferenchick, whose Spartans finished 22-6 and with a Wyoming Valley Conference Division 1 title and the program’s first-ever state playoff win. “That’s a great basketball team. There’s a lot of history behind it.”

Some of it’s pretty recent to the WVC.

Four years ago, Archbishop Wood ended Holy Redeemer’s run in the PIAA Class 3A semifinals during the junior year of former Royals great Alexis Lewis.

Two of the leftovers from that 2014 Vikings team, senior guards Shannon May and Sebold, did most of the work in breaking down Valley West.

May finished with seven points while neutralizing Spartans playmaker Erin Gibbons and Sebold scored a game-high 18 points while leading a bothersome, trapping defense that shut down passing lanes and flustered Valley West into eight turnovers by halftime.

“Ran into a buzzsaw. Isn’t that what they say?” Ferenchick said. “We were trying. What we wanted to do, we wanted to get somebody in the middle of the floor and attack. With the trap, it seemed to take us out of our offense. And they were just too much offensively. Their movement on offense was just too much for us. They really confused us.”

That pretty much ended Valley West’s hopes of reaching a state semifinal game, but not the honor of advancing farther in the state tournament than any team representing the school had gone before.

“I told the girls, ‘You had a great season.’ Someone’s got to lose,” Ferenchick said. “It was us today.”

PIAA Class 5A girls quarterfinal

Archbishop Wood 61, Wyoming Valley West 35

WYOMING VALLEY WEST (35) — Erin Gibbons 0 2-2 2, Andi Blaski 2 1-2 7, Natalie Gruver 0 0-2 0, Gabby Smicherko 3 4-4 12, Colleen Cwalina 4 0-0 8, Toni Amato 0 0-0 0, Katie Johnson 1 0-0 2, Katie Mackiewicz 0 0-0 0, Sidney Scarcella 0 0-0 0, Nicole Boutanos 0 2-2 2, Lindsey Gruver 1 0-0 2, Emily Tripp 0 0-0 0, Jessica Shaver 0 0-0 0. Totals 11 9-12 35.

ARCHBISHOP WOOD (61) — Shannon May 3 1-4 7, Cassie Sebold 6 4-4 18, Bridget Arcidiacono 3 0-0 6, Katie May 4 2-2 11, Megan Neher 1 0-0 2, Erin Morgan 0 0-0 0, Karly Brown 1 0-0 2, Mia Andrews 4 0-0 9, Ryleigh Parsons 0 0-0 0, Shannon Kelly 1 0-0 3, Lindsay Tretter 0 2-2 2, Nina Dougherty 0 0-0 0, Elizabeth Fasti 0 0-0 0, Emily Halloran 0 0-0 0, Rhiannon Brodbine 0 1-2 1. Totals 23 10-14 61.

Wyoming Valley West`5`6`12`12`—`35

Archbishop Wood`17`15`14`15`—`61

Three-point goals — WVW 4 (Smicherko 2, Blaski 2); AB 5 (Sebold 2, Andrews, K. May, Kelly).

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Wyoming Valley West’s Natalie Gruver passes around the Archbishop Wood defense.
http://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/web1_WVW-ArchWoodGBB_1-1.jpgWyoming Valley West’s Natalie Gruver passes around the Archbishop Wood defense. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader
Wyoming Valley West’s Gabby Smicherko shoots over Archbishop Wood defender Katie May in a PIAA Class 5A girls basketball quarterfinal game at Bethlehem Freedom High School on Saturday afternoon.
http://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/web1_WVW-ArchWoodGBB_2-1.jpgWyoming Valley West’s Gabby Smicherko shoots over Archbishop Wood defender Katie May in a PIAA Class 5A girls basketball quarterfinal game at Bethlehem Freedom High School on Saturday afternoon. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader
Wyoming Valley West’s Erin Gibbons shoots beyond the outstretched arm of Archbishop Wood’s Katie May.
http://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/web1_WVW-ArchWoodGBB_3-1.jpgWyoming Valley West’s Erin Gibbons shoots beyond the outstretched arm of Archbishop Wood’s Katie May. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader
Wyoming Valley West’s Andi Blaski drives to the hoop between the Archbishop Wood defense.
http://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/web1_WVW-ArchWoodGBB_4-1.jpgWyoming Valley West’s Andi Blaski drives to the hoop between the Archbishop Wood defense. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader
Wyoming Valley West’s Colleen Cwalina makes a move on Archbishop Wood’s Megan Neher.
http://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/web1_WVW-ArchWoodGBB_5-1.jpgWyoming Valley West’s Colleen Cwalina makes a move on Archbishop Wood’s Megan Neher. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader
Lindsey Gruver and the rest of the Wyoming Valley West Lady Spartans congratulate Archbishop Wood after their 61-35 loss.
http://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/web1_WVW-ArchWoodGBB_6-1.jpgLindsey Gruver and the rest of the Wyoming Valley West Lady Spartans congratulate Archbishop Wood after their 61-35 loss. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader
WVW ends season 22-6 and with program’s 1st playoff win

By Paul Sokoloski

[email protected]

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


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