POTTSVILLE It wasn't a huge run.
But it sure was an important one.
And it very well could have been the difference in Tamaqua's 45-39 PIAA opening round win over Scranton Prep Saturday.
Clinging to a four-point halftime lead, the Raiders (28-0) hoped to extend their margin to start the second half.
Instead, the Classics used a pair of baskets from Lindsey Schroth to even things up on the scoreboard.
"We usually hope we can make the first charge in the second half, but they did," said Tamaqua head coach Joe Berezwick. "They tied it up out of the gate. Give credit to our kids though because they went on a run themselves. We were able to weather the storm they made and that sort of held true the rest of the way."
Allison Updike, Cassie Eroh and Amy Zehner all hit from the floor during a 7-1 stretch that gave the District 11 champs a 27-21 advantage midway through the third quarter and some control in a tightly-contested playoff battle.
"If they get a lead and pad it a little bit they're going to be hard to track down. It was big getting that lead back and kind of controlling things out there. Down the stretch we got up a bit and were able to play a little keep away and get to the foul line."
While a six-point spread isn't exactly comfortable, it forced Prep to play catch-up the rest of the way.
And that's a difficult thing to do when Zehner is on the opposing club.
The senior, who finished with a game-high 17 points, added two more field goals in the frame and one to start the fourth period that left the score at 33-28.
"Obviously we were focused on Zehner and taking her away," said Classic mentor Ross Macciocco. "I thought we did a real good job on her. On a couple drives she got to the rim on us and she shouldn't have because we should have stepped in and tried to take the lane away from her.
"We thought we could come down here and compete with them. And I think we more than met the challenge."
Macciocco's squad, who was hurt by his post players getting into foul trouble, trimmed the margin to three points on a drive by freshman guard Tricia Byrne with 4:11 to play but a follow-up shot from Updike and an inside basket by Eroh upped the score to 37-30. The Raiders, who were only 4-of-13 from the foul line in the first half, went 8-of-12 at the stripe down the stretch to secure the victory and advance to Wednesday's second round game against Oley Valley.
"We could never really break away from them," said Berezwick. "It turned into a foul shooting match and fortunately we got the good percentage at the end. It wasn't kind to us through the first part of the game but down the stretch it was big for us.
"For this group here it's our third appearance in a row (to states). Everybody has nerves but being that we've been here before certainly helps. We came out to play. The game was ragged at times, and we talked about our foul shooting woes in the beginning, but in the end it comes down to Scranton Prep and they were prepared for us to stay in the game and have a chance to win."
Besides Zehner's scoring, Eroh tallied 12 points. Updike ended with eight points and also pulled down 10 rebounds. She also helped limit the Classics to just four offensive rebounds, two of which came on the game's final possession.
The Classics (21-6) received a team-high 13 points from Byrne while Schroth ended with 11 points and six boards.
"Rebounding was also key," said Berezwick. "Controlling the boards obviously helps in a tight game like this. Having that edge certainly helped in the outcome today."
M. Byrne 0-0-0-0, Dalessandra 0-0-0-0, T. Byrne 5-3-3-13, Schroth 4-3-6-11, Schultz 1-3-4-5, Ware 0-0-0-0, DiBileo 3-3-4-10. TOTALS: 13-12-17-39.
Hope 1-0-3-2, M. Streisel 0-4-8-4, C. Streisel 1-0-0-2, Eroh 4-4-4-12, Zehner 7-3-6-17, Updike 3-2-6-8, Wallace 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 16-13-27-45.
Scranton Prep 10 6 11 12 - 39
Tamaqua 12 8 11 14 - 45
Three-pointers: Scranton Prep - DiBileo 1; Tamaqua - None.