MINERSVILLE - Marian clawed its way back into the game after an early 13-point deficit. But the Golden Girls refused to let the Fillies come all the way back. They hung on through a tight third quarter and pulled away with fourth-quarter foul shots for a 56-42 win in Wednesday's District 11 Class A girls semifinal at Minersville.
It was Nativity's third win over Marian this season and its largest margin of victory.
"We gave up way too many points," said Marian head coach Paul Brutto. "That's the most points they've scored [against us] by about a dozen. Offensively that's about our normal production, low 40s. We did what we needed to offensively."
The Golden Girls will take on Tri-Valley Saturday at 7 p.m. at Martz Hall. Tri-Valley beat Moravian, 50-39, in Wednesday's other semifinal.
Nativity got off to a quick start, opening a 15-2 lead in the first five minutes and never trailing in the contest. Marian battled back, getting the lead down to five in the second quarter and cutting it to four points twice in the third period.
The Fillies never got closer than four. Each time they got close, the Golden Girls answered. Most of the time point guard Kiely Chaklos provided the answers. The 5-foot-2 junior scored a game-high 21 points.
Chaklos shot 3-for-3 in the first quarter, including one three-pointer, as her team built its lead. She shot 50 percent (7-for-14) for the game and went 3-for-4 from three-point range.
"She's a good player," Brutto said. "She's tough to stop."
After 14 first-half points, Marian limited Chaklos in the second half, allowing her just two field goals after intermission.
"They were really packing it in when she was coming down the paint," said Nativity head coach George Forney. "I thought we were penetrating a little too much early on in the second half."
Marian cut the lead to five late in the first half on a basket by Danielle Tristani, who was fouled but failed to convert the three-point play.
A couple turnovers early in the third quarter helped Nativity build the lead back up to eight, 33-25, with 5:47 left in the third.
Marian wouldn't go away as it cut the lead to four points three times in the second half.
"Anytime the two of us play one another you know what you're in for," said Forney. "It's a war from start to finish."
Baskets by Kelly Shober and Angela Bellezza made it 33-29 with 4:33 left in the third. A Jen Linkchorst bucket got it to 35-31 moments later.
"Everytime we got it to four, we probably could have got it to two, but then all of a sudden it was back up to seven or eight," said Brutto.
Two late-third quarter turnovers put Marian behind 39-31 heading into the fourth. Gillian Ferko hit two baskets and Shober had one during a 6-2 run that cut the Girls' lead to four for the final time, 41-37 with 4:44 left in the game.
Nativity, an experienced team that has all of its players back from last year's state finalist squad, sealed the win with solid foul shooting down the stretch.
The Golden Girls made 11 of 19 free throws in the fourth quarter while Marian made 5 of 10 in the fourth quarter and 15 of 29 in the game.
"That's a tribute to their experience," Brutto said. "They've been in more big games, collectively.
"I was real proud of the way we battled back. We were down 15-2 to a team that was in the state championship and has everybody back and we get it back within working numbers. I give our kids a lot of credit. By the same token they beat us three times so you have to tip your hat to them. They're obviously the better team and hopefully they'll do the Schuylkill League proud once they get out in states."
Bellezza 3-0-0-7, McLaughlin 0-1-2-1, Kennedy 0-1-2-1, Gutsie 0-0-0-0, Linkchorst 2-8-11-12, Shober 4-0-1-8, Ferko 2-3-8-7, Tristani 2-2-5-6. TOTALS: 13-15-29-42
Farr 2-9-15-14, Field 1-2-3-4, Chaklos 7-4-6-21, Eich 1-2-3-4, Holohan 0-2-2-2, Birosik 1-2-6-5, Ditzel 0-0-0-0, Nabholz 3-0-1-6. TOTALS: 15-21-36-56.
Marian 9 15 7 11 - 42
Nativity 19 11 9 17 - 56
Three-pointers - M: Bellezza 1; N: Chaklos 3, Farr 1, Birosik 1.