Pocono Mountain East and Pleasant Valley have played each other twice throughout the course of the regular season, with the teams splitting the decisions, as both took home a win against the other. When the two teams met again in last night's Mountain Valley Conference semifinals, there should have been no need for a scouting report. The two opposing coaching staffs had all they would need heading into the game.
It was the Lady Bears, however, that utilized their information better in constructing a game plan that worked so well to the point that they rolled to a 47-29 to move on to the league championship on Friday night against Pocono Mountain West at a site to be determined.
The Bears overcame a sluggish offensive start to eventually force the Cardinals' guards into turnovers and also converted on the free throw line down the stretch for the win.
"Our goal tonight was to spread out their big girls and get them out of position to take them out, so that the guards would have to come up big and they would be forced into bad decisions," Pleasant Valley head coach Nadia Gauronsky admitted afterwards.
The plan was perfect, as East committed 21 turnovers with the ball that led to plenty of fast break chances and enough opportunities to pull away down the stretch. Pleasant Valley committed 12 turnovers to keep things under control.
In the fourth quarter, the Lady Bears went 10-14 from the charity stripe to maintain the lead. "Free throws play in to every single game all season and tonight was no different," Gauronsky stated. "I told the girls it doesn't matter how we shot from the foul line back in December or January. It matters how we shoot tonight. Tonight, they converted."
Pleasant Valley started out slowly and trailed 8-7 after eight minutes due to some shooting woes (3-14 FG in the first). After East's Allison Roth hit a trey at the beginning of the second to give her team a 11-7 lead, the locals' Amber Chieffo rattled off five points of her own to counteract. Pocono's Tristin Wicks hit a 15-footer to regain the lead for her squad, but that's when the Lady Bears (16-7 overall, 9-3 MVC) went on a 9-0 run that continued into the third for a 21-13 lead.
With three minutes left in the third, the Lady Cards cut their deficit to three at 23-20. But a 12-2 run took a 35-22 lead with just under six minutes left in the game after a Jordan Meckes lay-up.
"You have to give it to them," Pocono Mountain East's head coach Rose Haller admitted. "They executed their game plan to perfection tonight. We haven't really been in this type of situation and it seemed to me that we just didn't come to compete tonight."
Sophomore guard Keri Dekmar hit for seven in the final session to lead her team with a team-high 12 points, while teammate Kelecia Harris added 11 points, three blocks, and 14 rebounds.
For the Cardinals (10-12 overall, 8-4 MVC), Roth led the way with 11, while Wicks added 10.
Ruggiero 1-0-0-3, Lalin 0-0-0-0, Parker 0-0-0-0, Roth 4-0-0-11, Reisenwitz 0-1-4-1, Wicks 4-2-4-10, Ingram 2-0-2-4. TOTALS: 11-3-10-29.
Meckes 2-1-3-5, Cisluycis 1-3-4-5, Dekmar 3-5-7-12, Chieffo 2-1-2-6, Harris 5-1-2-11, Miller 0-0-0-0, Dorney 1-2-2-4, Craig 0-4-8-4. TOTALS: 14-17-28-47.
PM East 8 5 9 7 - 29
Pleas. Vy. 7 12 12 16 - 47
Three pointers: PME - Roth 3, Ruggiero 1; PV - Chieffo 1, Dekmar 1.