READING For Marian it was both a night to remember and one to forget.
The stage of a packed Geigle Complex. The thrill of an early lead. And the feeling of a spirited comeback. All will be memories the Fillies can reflect on when thinking back to their state semifinal game played Wednesday night against Steelton-Highspire.
What Paul Brutto's squad won't want to dwell on is the final score a 62-49 loss that ended their season and some missed opportunities.
"It was one of those games," said Brutto, whose team finished 22-7. "We had them down, and they got us down. Both teams just played their heart out.
"We missed layups and free throws that you need to get to come back all the way. But that's just playoff basketball. Some nights they go in. Some nights they don't. It happens during the season, but there aren't ... 3000 people there to see it. It just gets magnified now. That's just the way the game goes sometimes."
The way the game was going early, it seemed like the contest might come down to the final seconds. The first two and a half quarters produced four ties and nine lead changes.
But with the score 34-34, the Steamrollers' Division I prospect Malia Tate-DeFreitas spearheaded a 16-4 run that gave her team the lead for good. Tate-DeFreitas, who averages over 30 points a game and finished with 27 against the Fillies, hit two driving baskets and also delivered two perfect feeds to Amber Anderson (11 points) during that stretch.
"We didn't want to let Tate-DeFreitas score quite that much but she's a very good player," said Brutto. "We didn't double her as much as we would have liked to. We got kind of hesitant for some reason. But she's tough to guard. She's quick with the ball. She's got the ball in her hands a lot. And she finds people."
Despite Marian finding itself on the short end of a 50-38 score with six minutes to play and their point guard (Gabby Green) having suffered an injury, it staged a gutty comeback.
A three-pointer by Kaysi McLaughlin and a driving bucket from Danielle Tristani trimmed the deficit to seven points. The Fillies didn't take full advantage of a Steel-High foul and technical (converting just 1-of-4 free throws) but McLaughlin hit again from outside to pull the District 11 runner-ups within 50-47 with 4:09 left to play.
"It was gut check time in the second half," said Lady Rollers head coach Jeffery Chisholm. "We thought they gave us their best shot in the first half and we were able to get up (12), but they fought back. We were able to hold our ground. They missed some big foul shots and they could have pushed closer. But that's the way the ball bounces."
The rally proved to be Marian's final gasp as Tate-DeFreitas and her team took over down the stretch. The junior superstar, who does most of her damage driving to the basket and putting up shots in the paint, spotted Amber Hess-Moore for an open three-pointer that began a closing 12-2 spurt.
"Take nothing away from Marian Catholic," said Chisholm. "It's a good program and (Brutto) has been around a while. But I think my girls were a little hungry. We've been to states before."
Early on, it was Kelly Shober and the Fillies who were the hungrier team.
Shober, who ended the contest with a team-high 18 points and added seven rebounds, tallied seven points during an 11-0 run in the first half. That gave Marian its largest lead (22-14) three minutes into the second quarter. Shober, however, picked up a second foul soon after that and Brutto opted to keep her on the bench. The Rollers (27-3) responded to that and grabbed a one-point lead at the break.
"We were definitely inflated by our start," said Brutto. "Unfortunately we couldn't hold onto that going into the half ... They came back, and they killed us on the boards. And they took the lead at the half. It would have been nice to go in with a little cushion but we weren't able to do that.
"We got them in early foul trouble and that hurt them. And then Kelly got her (second) and we sat her and that hurt us."
What also hurt was the battle for the boards. Steelton claimed a 38-25 rebounding edge and collected 18 off the offensive glass.
DeFreitas accounted for 10 rebounds while Rayvon Donals had 11.
Marian's senior starters Shober, McLaughlin (12 points) and Tristani (10) scored all but nine of their team's points.
"In their freshmen year we had lost eight seniors from a team that won a state championship game," said Brutto of his current 12th graders. "They had to step into that and carry on a pretty good tradition. Every season was a winning one, [this year] there were two silver medals, and a run this far. That says a lot about their character from their freshmen year on. And I told them that. They carried on a great tradition and deserve a lot of credit."
Tate-DeFreitas 11-5-6-27, Blanding 6-1-2-13, Hess-Moore 2-1-2-7, Donald 2-0-0-4, Sanchez 0-0-0-0, Beaden 0-0-2-0, Hill 0-0-0-0, Anderson 5-1-2-11. TOTALS: 26-8-14-62.
Green 3-0-0-7, Faust 0-0-0-0, McLaughlin 3-3-7-12, Bray 0-0-0-0, Sofranko 0-0-0-0, Nemeth 0-2-2-2, Wilson 0-0-0-0, Shober 7-3-4-18, Tristani 3-4-11-10. TOTALS: 16-12-24-49.
Steel-High 14 14 16 18 - 62
Marian 13 14 11 11 - 49
Three-pointers: Steel-Hi - Hess-Moore 2; Marian - McLaughlin 3, Green 1, Shober 1.