PIAA basketball: Nanticoke Area girls press their way to first-round victory

By Paul Sokoloski - [email protected]
Nanticoke Area’s Katie Butczynski (42) fights off Danville’s Samantha Chillis during the first round of the PIAA Class 4A girls basketball tournament at the Marts Center in Wilkes-Barre. - Sean McKeag | Times Leader
Nanticoke Area’s Alyssa Lewis (3) runs past Danville’s Clara Coombe during the first round of the Class 4A state girls basketball tournament at the Marts Center. - Sean McKeag | Times Leader
Nanticoke Area’s Jil Baron, right, battles with Danville’s Corinna Petros for possession Saturday at the Marts Center. - Sean McKeag | Times Leader
Nanticoke Area’s Katie Butczynski, left, goes for a layup againt Danville’s Emily Heath during Saturday’s first round PIAA Class 4A tournament girls basketball game at the Marts Center. - - Sean McKeag | Times Leader
Nanticoke Area’s Lisa Radziak hustles down the court against Danville during a state playoff game at the Marts Center. - - Sean McKeag | Times Leader
Nanticoke Area’s Maddy Grilz maintains control against Danville’s Clara Coombe’s defense at the Marts Center. - - Sean McKeag | Times Leader

WILKES-BARRE — Based on what they watched all week, the defenders on Nanticoke Area’s girls basketball team took one look at their opponent and knew something was amiss.

A couple starters weren’t on the floor.

“We did watch them on film and noticed a senior was missing,” Nanticoke Area guard Alyssa Lewis said.

All the more reason to turn up the defensive intensity.

Lewis scored 18 points, combined with Katie Butczynski to make five steals and Nanticoke Area’s high-pressure defense forced 21 turnovers Saturday as the Trojanettes staved off depleted Danville 42-31 in a PIAA Class 4A girls basketball tournament opener at Wilkes University’s Marts Center.

“The first four minutes, that’s kind of the group that we saw early in the season,” Nanticoke Area coach Alan Yendrzeiwski said, “as far as executing traps, getting teams out of their rhythm.”

That gotNanticoke Area (22-5) going to the second round of states for the second straight year. The Trojanettes, who ripped off a 17-game winning streak that carried through the bulk of the season but lost four of seven games entering PIAA play, will face District 1 champ Gwynedd Mercy in a second-round state game Wednesday. Gwynedd Mercy (17-8) carved up Carver E&S 77-21 in another first-round state game Saturday.

“The state playoffs is a great time,” Lewis said. “Everyone gets so excited, to hopefully start a great run.”

The Trojanettes were off and running from the start.

Lisa Radziak opened states with a hot hand, hitting a pair of 3-point goals and scoring eight of her 10 points in the first 4:14 as Nanticoke Area shot out to a 10-0 lead.

That was important against a Danville team that won the District 4 third-place game but lost promising shot-blocking sophomore starter Linea Williams to a torn ACL in the process. And senior guard Bethany Holeman, one of the leading scorers for the Ironmen, was away from the team on a family vacation at the start of states.

And while Elaina Klinger and Samantha Chillis played well filling in for them, the Ironmen had trouble creating any early offensive flow while trying to deal with Nanticoke Area’s press.

Danville committed nine turnovers in the first quarter, and the Trojanettes rode that to a 14-6 lead, then lost the ball five more times in the second quarter.

“Our press was working very well,” Lewis said. “It kind of set the tone for the first quarter.”

Ironmen coach Steve Moser said afterwards it took his team about 10 minutes to adjust to a trapping press defense that Danville was unfamiliar with facing.

“After that, they kind of settled in,” Yendrzeiwski said. “I just felt we weren’t making the right choices, just weren’t making good decisions The game was close throughout.”

Danville’s defense made it that way.

Clara Coombe, Emily Heath and Chillis closed off the inside, relegating the Trojanettes to a perimeter offensive team and turning the game into a tussle.

Erin Cope came off the bench with four points in the second quarter to help Danville close within 22-18 by halftime, and Corinna Petrus hit four points in the third quarter as the Ironmen stayed within six.

But Nanticoke Area still had its press, forcing six more turnovers in the third quarter that helped the Trojanettes overcome a sub-par shooting day where they converted just 18 of 45 (40 percent) shots from the floor — including 2 of 10 attempts from 3-point range.

“Playing in a state playoff game made everyone a little nervous,” Lewis said. “They had a lot of big girls in the lane. We started spreading out the floor, passing the ball. We got a couple perfect passes, made some good cuts.”

Then Lewis took over.

She scored six points around a lay-in by Jil Baron to give the Trojanettes an 11-point lead a tick under three minutes into the fourth quarter, then hit a layup and foul shot to score nine of her 18 points over the final eight minutes and nine of the team’s 11 in the last quarter.

”It’s fun to play in big games like this at bigger arenas,” Yendrzeiwski said. “You survive and advance and keep doing it.”

Bethlehem Catholic 56, Berwick 25

A slow start while trying to stay with the defending state champion proved a bad combination for the Bulldogs.

Meanwhile, Hope Brown scored six of her game-high 13 points in the first quarter and Jaleesa Lanier popped five of her 12 to get the District 11 champion Golden Hawks out to a 15-2 lead in the first quarter as Bethlehem Catholic rolled to victory.

Both star scorers for Bethlehem Catholic (25-3) had seven points in the third quarter to help extend the lead to 46-17 as the Golden Hawks, bidding for back-to-back PIAA Class 4A championships, moved on to the state’s second round Wednesday.

Reese Mensinger led Berwick with 10 points. She had the only two points for the Bulldogs on free throws in the first quarter and scored three of the team’s five points in the second quarter as Berwick was limited to seven points in the first half.

Berwick, the No. 3 team from District 2, finished its season at 17-9.

PIAA CLASS 4A

Nanticoke Area 42, Danville 31

DANVILLE (31) — Elaina Klinger 0 0-1 0, Emily Heath 1 0-0 2, Corinna Petrus 2 4-6 6, Clara Coombe 3 1-3 7, Samantha Chillis 1 6-8 8, Erin Cope 2 2-2 6, Kylee Cush 0 0-0 0, Kaitlyn Raup 0 0-0 0, Joanna Campbell 0 0-0 0, Olivia Outt 0 0-0 0. Totals 9 13-20 31.

NANTICOKE AREA (42) — Alyssa Lewis 8 2-7 18, Maddy Grilz 0 0-0 0, Lisa Radziak 3 2-2 10, Katie Butczynski 3 0-0 6, Jil Baron 4 0-0 8, Amiah Lukowski 0 0-1 0, Lauren Casey 0 0-0 0, Bella Czeck 0 0-1 0. Totals 18 4-11 42.

Danville`6`12`7`6 — 31

Nanticoke Area`14`8`9`11 — 42

Three-point goals — NAN 2 (Radziak 2).

Bethlehem Catholic 56, Berwick 25

BERWICK (25) — Reese Mensinger 3 4-8 10, Renny Murphy 0 0-0 0, Emily Novicki 0 0-0 0, Makayla Force 0 0-0 0, Sierra Miedaner 0 0-0 0, Katie Starr 2 0-0 4, Megan Dalo 1 2-2 4, Haley Owens 0 0-0 0, Mallory Pinterich 2 0-0 4, Roni Isenberg 1 1-4 3. Totals 9 7-14 25.

BETHLEHEM CATHOLIC (56) — Isabelle Rosario 0 0-0 0, Jaleesa Lanier 1 0-1 2, Natalie Rhine 5 0-0 12, Briana Barnard 3 0-1 6, Kamryn Williamson 0 0-0 0, Solei Rodriguez 1 0-0 2, Morgan Orloski 2 0-0 4, Hope Brown 6 0-0 13, Taliyah Medina 3 2-2 9, Abigail Brown 2 0-0 4, Julia Zambo 1 0-0 2, Alanysse Solomann 1 0-0 2, Perry 0 0-2 0. Totals 25 2-4 56.

Berwick`2`5`10`8 — 25

Bethlehem Catholic`15`11`20`10 — 56

Three-point goals — BC 4 (Rhine 2, Medina, Brown).

Nanticoke Area’s Katie Butczynski (42) fights off Danville’s Samantha Chillis during the first round of the PIAA Class 4A girls basketball tournament at the Marts Center in Wilkes-Barre.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/web1_TTL031118GBBDanvilleNanticoke1.jpgNanticoke Area’s Katie Butczynski (42) fights off Danville’s Samantha Chillis during the first round of the PIAA Class 4A girls basketball tournament at the Marts Center in Wilkes-Barre. Sean McKeag | Times Leader

Nanticoke Area’s Alyssa Lewis (3) runs past Danville’s Clara Coombe during the first round of the Class 4A state girls basketball tournament at the Marts Center.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/web1_TTL031118GBBDanvilleNanticoke2.jpgNanticoke Area’s Alyssa Lewis (3) runs past Danville’s Clara Coombe during the first round of the Class 4A state girls basketball tournament at the Marts Center. Sean McKeag | Times Leader

Nanticoke Area’s Jil Baron, right, battles with Danville’s Corinna Petros for possession Saturday at the Marts Center.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/web1_TTL031118GBBDanvilleNanticoke3.jpgNanticoke Area’s Jil Baron, right, battles with Danville’s Corinna Petros for possession Saturday at the Marts Center. Sean McKeag | Times Leader

Nanticoke Area’s Katie Butczynski, left, goes for a layup againt Danville’s Emily Heath during Saturday’s first round PIAA Class 4A tournament girls basketball game at the Marts Center.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/web1_TTL031118GBBDanvilleNanticoke4.jpgNanticoke Area’s Katie Butczynski, left, goes for a layup againt Danville’s Emily Heath during Saturday’s first round PIAA Class 4A tournament girls basketball game at the Marts Center. Sean McKeag | Times Leader

Nanticoke Area’s Lisa Radziak hustles down the court against Danville during a state playoff game at the Marts Center.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/web1_TTL031118GBBDanvilleNanticoke5.jpgNanticoke Area’s Lisa Radziak hustles down the court against Danville during a state playoff game at the Marts Center. Sean McKeag | Times Leader

Nanticoke Area’s Maddy Grilz maintains control against Danville’s Clara Coombe’s defense at the Marts Center.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/web1_TTL031118GBBDanvilleNanticoke6.jpgNanticoke Area’s Maddy Grilz maintains control against Danville’s Clara Coombe’s defense at the Marts Center. Sean McKeag | Times Leader
Swarming defense creates 21 turnovers in first-round PIAA win

By Paul Sokoloski

[email protected]

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

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