POTTSVILLE - Nativity's game plan for Tuesday night's Schuylkill League playoff semifinal against Tamaqua wasn't much different that the first time the two teams met this season - stop Amy Zehner.
It didn't work the first time as the Lady Raiders grabbed the win.
It didn't work this time either.
Tamaqua showed there is no "I" in its team as four starters hit double figures and the Lady Raiders pulled away in the second half for a 63-51 win. They also earned a berth in Friday night's championship game against Tri-Valley, a 58-54 double overtime upset winner over Pine Grove, in the other semifinal, back at Martz Hall at 6.
"We got off to a good start and that was key," said Tamaqua head coach Joe Berezwick after his team notched its 20th win of the season. "Last time when we played them earlier in the season, we were down by eight at halftime so I thought it was big for us to be up by three at the half this time.
"We had that run early in the first quarter, but Nativity is a good team and was able to cut into it."
In the first half, however, Zehner was content to pick up assists as she scored just four points and had just one rebound with Nativity switching Gabi Nabholz and Courtney Field on her.
Instead, Cassie Eroh made a couple of buckets and Kayla Hope scored 10 of her 14 points as the Raiders 30-27 lead at the half.
Elissa Streisel had seven of her 13 points during the first two quarters and Allie Updike was content to control the boards as she pulled down nine of her 16 rebounds early on.
The Golden Girls were able to stay in the game as Kiely Chaklos single-handedly provided the offense as she scored 15 of her game-high 26 points in the first half.
Nativity actually took control for a bit in the beginning of the third quarter scoring the first five points for a 32-30 lead. With 4:08 left in the stanza, the Golden Girls led 38-37 before Zehner scored six straight points and the Raiders never trailed after that.
"They actually came out and scored the first five points of the second half, I called a timeout and we kind of regrouped," said Berezwick. "It was back and forth there for a while, but finally we busted out to get the separation we needed to kind of have some breathing room down the end."
Berezwick lauded his entire team's effort.
entire team's effort.
"Allie (Updike) was just all over the place," he said. "When she goes for a rebound, she goes with authority. Alli also hit a big three there late in the fourth quarter to take a seven-point lead up to 10.
"They all know there roles and played them well. Cassie Eroh played fantastic. Elissa Streisel did a fantastic job defensively on Nicole Farr. Then Kayla Hope plays probably her best four quarters of basketball not only scoring, but defending one of the best point guards in the league.
"We're kind of the new kid on the block. It was fantastic to get to the final last year even though we lost to Nativity. Now we're back here with a shot to win it and it's a great honor when you look at the toughness of Schuylkill League basketball."
Zehner finished the night with 16 points and Updike added 11. Farr was the only other Nativity player besides Chaklos in doubles with 11.
Hope 7-0-2-14, M. Streisel 1-1-2-3, E. Streisel 5-1-4-13, Eroh 3-0-0-6, Zehner 7-2-4-16, Updike 3-3-4-11. TOTALS: 26-7-16-63.
Farr 4-0-0-11, Field 4-0-0-8, Chaklos 8-10-12-26, Eich 0-0-0-0, Holohan 0-0-0-0, Birosik 1-0-0-2, Hayes 0-0-0-0, Lewandowski 0-0-0-0, Nabholz 2-0-2-4 . TOTALS: 19-10-12-51.
Tamaqua 14 16 15 18 - 63
Nativity 9 18 11 9 - 51
Three-pointers: Tamaqua - E. Streisel 2, Updike -2; Nativity - Farr 3.