HAMBURG - It was the quarter Tamaqua could not afford to have.
Tied at 27 with District 3 champion Oley Valley at halftime, the Lady Raiders came out with their worst shooting period of the season, missing all nine shots from the field in the third quarter and scoring just one point.
While the Lady Lynx managed just six points in the stanza, it gave them the lead they protected the rest of the way for a 52-46 victory Wednesday night in the second round of the PIAA Class AAA playoffs at Hamburg High School.
The loss ended the season for District 11 champion Tamaqua (28-1) in the State Sweet 16 for the third year in a row and snapped its school-record winning streak at 28 games.
"There's the old saying that there's only one team happy at the end," said Tamaqua coach Joe Berezwick. "I've been in this situation for the third straight time now, and while it's disappointing that this season comes to an end with this loss, what a fantastic bunch of kids I have. They played their hearts out night in and night out, and I'm so proud of this season. It's one that I'll never forget."
Shooting-wise, Oley Valley (25-4) hit on 19 for 53 from the floor (35.8 percent) while the Raiders were 17 for 50 (34 percent).
The Lynx made the most of their trips to the charity stripe, however, connecting on 11 of 12 foul shots, including 7-for-8 in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, the Raiders made just eight of 17 attempts, well below their 6.4 percent average.
Oley Valley features a balanced attack and likes to play uptempo. Defensively, the Lynx match-up zone focused on 5-10 senior Amy Zehner, the Raiders' leading scorer at 22 points per game, limiting her to 14. They also switched effectively to a half-court trap at times.
"We're used to playing at that speed all the time, and we average over 60 points a game," said Oley Valley coach Mike Clark. "I told our girls that with them coming in 28-0, there were probably times they didn't have to play at this speed."
Tamaqua handled the Lynx zone in the first quarter, moving the ball around the perimeter and sinking six of 12 shots, led by senior Cassie Eroh's five points. The Raiders were up by as many as seven and were on top 16-12 after one.
The Raiders committed eight turnovers in the second quarter and the Lynx got five points from junior guard Jasmen Clark and four apiece from freshman guard Brandi Vallely and 5-11 junior Miranda Krott to take a 27-25 lead.
"I think they had us off-balance all game," admitted Berezwick. "We wanted to slow them down by being patient, and it's a credit to them that they made us force a lot of things. That's what we wanted to do to them, so we had the reverse put on us."
Junior Kayla Hope was fouled on an offensive rebound (one of her nine caroms for the game) with .5 of a second left in the first half and hit two free throws to pull the Raiders even at 27.
The only point the Raiders scored in the next eight minutes was a foul shot by Zehner with 1:28 left in the third. Meanwhile, the Lynx got hoops from Kayla Krott and Vallely and two Miranda Krott free throws to lead 33-28 after three.
Tamaqua warmed up in the fourth quarter, with Zehner netting six points, Christine Streisel five off the bench and Maria Streisel four, but got no closer than three twice, the last coming at 46-43 on Christine Streisel's triple with 39 seconds left.
Miranda Krott got loose on a lay-up, and two Vallely foul shots sealed it for the Lynx at 50-43 with 21 seconds to go.
Vallely tallied a game-high 17 points while Miranda Krott added 14 points and 10 rebounds and Clark chipped in 12 points.
Zehner's final line was 14 points, 11 rebounds, eight blocked shots and five steals. The Bucknell recruit ended her career with 1,908 points, third on the Lady Raider all-time list.
Eroh's 13 points gave her 643 for her career, tied for 24th place. Allison Updike, the third senior starter, ended with 568 career points, 33rd on the list. Also playing her last game was senior reserve center Stacey Wallace.
"We had a fantastic run," said Berezwick. "I told the seniors a week ago that, when it came to the reality of one and done, I didn't want to give them up until the very end. We fell a week and a half short of where I wanted to send them off. I love these seniors and I am going to miss them."
Hope 1-2-2-4, M. Streisel 3-0-0-6, Eroh 5-0-0-13, Zehner 5-4-13-14, Updike 0-2-2-2, C. Streisel 3-0-0-7. TOTALS: 17-8-17-46.
Clark 4-2-2-12, K. Krott 3-0-0-6, Lamey 0-0-0-0, Vallely 5-7-8-17, Grieb 1-0-0-3, M. Krott 6-2-2-14. TOTALS: 19-11-12-52.
Tamaqua 16 11 1 18 - 46
Oley Valley 12 15 6 19 - 52
Three-point goals: T-Eroh 3, C. Streisel 1; OV-Clark 2, Grieb 1.