POTTSVILLE - Understandably, with visions of yet another battle in their historic series with Nativity looming in the horizon, it took the Marian Fillies a little over a quarter and a half here Saturday night at Martz Hall before they were able to claim the spot opposite the Golden Girls in the District 11 Class A semifinal with a 37-22 win over Minersville.
Coach Paul Brutto's squad, 16-7, used mid-game spurts to sispose of the Battlin Miners, 11-12, and will meet Nativity on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Minersville High, that matchup to be the third time this season the two teams will square off. For awhile Saturday, though, the Fillies' victory didn't come easy.
Coach Chris Andruchek's Miners fought and clawed their way to a 6-4 first quarter lead, and trailed by only one, 10-9, at the 3:53 point of the second period, before the favored Fillies opened things up.
"They took it to us in the first half; it was touch and go too long," said Brutto, whose squad defeated Minersville 45-21 back in January. "But Minersville has hard-nosed kids, and they battled. Give 'em credit. In the second half, we responded and picked it up defensively."
Actually, a put-back deuce by Kelly Shober (12 rebounds, 7 points), her second bucket off the offensive boards of the quarter, gave Marian a 10-8 lead with 4:15 left in the first half, The Miners got with one on a free throw by Kristie Sborz, but Marian reeled off six straight points for a 16-9 intermission lead.
Once again, the Miners battler, getting within three, 16-13, on a Sarah Walasavage bucket with 6:27 left in the third, but the Fillies went on their second spurt, a 10-1 run, that made it 26-14 at the close of three quarters. Six Fillies (Shober, Kaysi McLaughlin, Gillian Ferko, Corinne Markiewicz, Emily Kennedy and Jen Linkchorst) scored in the stretch, the latter giving Marian a 12-point cushion on a driving layup at the buzzer.
"Part of it (the slow start) is metality," Brutto guesses. "But I told our girls we have got to get points in the paint. We can't rely on the three-point line and 20-foot jump shots." The Fillies suffered through a dismal 28 percent (12 for 43) shooting night.
They proceeded to score the first seven points of the fourth stanza, including four by McLaughlin and three by Danielle Tristani, taking a commanding 33-14 lead that signalled lights out for the Miners.
They, too, experiences a poor shooting performance, hitting on only 7 of 42 floor shots (17 percent), which Brutto surmised may have been because "they had kids playing here for the first time."
McLaughlin led the way for Marian with nine points, followed by Shober's seven and six by Linkchorst.
The Fillies outrebounded the Miners 39-32.
"We probably earned a zero for style points, and some might think it was ugly at times, but it's a victory nonetheless. We get to play Wednmesday, which was our objective, so we'll see what happens," Brutto closed.
Bellezza 1-2-2-4, Ferrello 0-0-0-0, McLaughlin 3-3-6-9, Patten 0-1-2-1, Gutsie 0-1-2-1, Markiewicz 1-0-2-2, Linkchorst 2-2-4-6, Shober 3-1-2-7, Ferko 1-0-0-2, Tristani 1-3-4-5, Faust 0-0-0-0, Wilson 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 12-13-24-37.
Purcell 2-0-0-5, Sborz 1-1-2-3, Walasavage 1-0-2-2, Oakhill 1-3-6-5, Brophy 2-1-2-7, Mitchell, Bentz, Ryan, Pukas, Evans, Brennan and Leshko, all 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 7-5-12-22.
Marian 4 12 10 11 - 37
Minersville 6 3 5 8 -22
Three-pointers: Minersville - Purcell, 1, Brophy, 2; Marian - none.y