POCONO SUMMIT - The Pleasant Valley girls' basketball team looked as if it wasn't ready for the beginning of its Mountain Valley Conference semi-final matchup with East Stroudsburg South Tuesday night.
It wasn't until two minutes into the second quarter that the Lady Bears woke up and finally got things rolling. When it was over, the locals had rolled themselves right into the MVC championship game.
Pleasant Valley used a 10-0 run in the second quarter and went from being down seven points to up three within just three minutes of play. The run ignited the Bears' team with energy and enthusiasm and it carried over into an even bigger third quarter. In the end Pleasant Valley won 43-35 and will now play for its third straight conference title this Friday.
"It definitely was the turning point of the game for us," said Pleasant Valley head coach Nadia Gauronsky on her team's second-quarter run. "The girls started playing real well. There was a lot of energy on the bench and a lot of energy on the floor. I think it really helped us. I am very proud of the girls."
Turnovers were a bug-a-boo for Pleasant Valley early on as it turned the ball over eight times in the opening quarter. The turnovers meant fewer shots for the Bears and more shots for the Cavaliers. South turned the free gifts into an 11-5 lead.
Up 14-7 at the 5:30 mark of the second quarter, South center and MVC first-teamer Hana Swinton was forced to sit with her third foul. Whether it was the reason or just coincidence, Pleasant Valley then reeled off ten straight points to take its first lead of the night.
Dzana Krcic and Kiki Russell converted on back-to-back lay-ups and gave the Bears life. After a South timeout, the locals kept the spurt going with six consecutive points from Jordan Meckes, Russell and Courtney Miller. Russell was the catalyst, as she picked off a few passes and made a nice driving floater. She scored six points in the quarter and finished with ten for the game.
"(Russell) is going to be a great player," said Gauronsky. "She is only a freshman and she is going to be terrific. It is really nice to have a spark-plug coming in for you off the bench."
Pleasant Valley opened its lead to 29-20 in the third quarter thanks to its match-up zone and its ability to finish inside. The Bears made sure they located all four of the Cavs' willing shooters and forced them into a lot of jumpers. Cy Lippold was the only one to get going for South. She scored 12 points in the fourth quarter and finished with a game-high 16. As for her teammates, it was an off night to say the least.
"We monitored their shooters pretty well in the zone," Gauronsky said. "We did a great job and we talked to each other. They tried to spread the floor, but we knew where they were at all times."
Meanwhile, Mackenzie Dorney and Miller each converted two buckets inside in the third to help the Bears out-score the Cavs by ten.
Lippold tried to keep South in the game in the fourth, but Pleasant Valley took care of the ball and converted on 8-of-13 free throws to win the game.
Pleasant Valley will play top-seeded Pocono Mountain West in search of its third consecutive conference title. The game will take place at 6 p.m. on Friday at Pocono Mountain East.
"I am feeling much better," joked Gauronsky. "There really wasn't much to say on Saturday. We were 9-for-47. But the girls played much better and I am glad they came back and got a win.
"I told them their work isn't done yet. Everyone is saying that Pocono Mountain West is the team to beat, but we had them at halftime last game. We can do it, we just have to stay positive and keep doing the right things."
Meckes 3-5-6-11, Cisluycis 0-2-3-2, Dekmar 0-2-9-2, Krcic 1-0-0-2, Fields 0-0-2-0, Miller 3-2-2-8, Russell 5-0-0-10, Dorney 2-4-5-8. TOTALS: 15-15-27-43.
Swinton 1-0-0-2, B. Poje 2-2-4-6, Lippold 7-2-3-16, K. Poje 2-0-0-5, Rodriguez 1-0-0-2, Ramirez 1-1-4-4, Asher 0-0-0-0, Cook 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 14-5-11-35.
Pleasant Vy. 5 14 14 10 - 43
ES South 11 7 4 13 - 35
Three-pointers: ES - K. Poge 1, Ramirez 1.