NAZARETH - The Pleasant Valley girls didn't dig themselves a hole Tuesday in their District 11 semifinal matchup with Liberty.
They gouged out a giant crater.
Suffering from shooting woes in the first quarter and turnover troubles in the second, the Bears fell behind 16-0 early and trailed the Hurricanes by a 25-5 count at the break.
Not surprisingly, that deficit was just too much for the Mountain Valley Conference champions to overcome and they eventually dropped a 44-30 decision.
The loss prevented PV from making a trip to the finals and now sends the team into Friday night's consolation game where they will face Whitehall.
"I don't know if we were shell-shocked or what but we certainly didn't come out like we normally come out," said Pleasant Valley head coach Nadia Gauronsky. "It's hard to come back when you score five points in a half."
While the Bears (17-9) opened the contest with 13 straight misses from the floor, with five of those shots from three-point range, Liberty was clicking on all cylinders.
The Hurricanes, led by their senior star Jody Chickey, connected on seven of their first 10 attempts with six of those scores on drives or putbacks. Chickey accounted for three of those buckets.
"We started off great," said Liberty mentor Amy Yencho, whose club will now face Bangor for the AAAA title. "Our defense dictated our offense there. You couldn't ask for a better start.
"We definitely wanted to get the ball inside and get easy shots instead of settling for perimeter jump shots."
For Pleasant Valley, who first got on the scoreboard with 1:27 left in the opening frame on a three-pointer by Jordan Meckes, it would have settled for any kind of shot in the second quarter.
The top-seeded Bears turned the ball over 12 times in the period while taking just three shots (and missing all three).
Maggie Zerbe, who helped stymie PV's inside presence Kelecia Harris in the first half, scored four points in that second frame as Liberty (16-8) extended its advantage to 20 points.
"We were mostly concerned about Pleasant Valley's heighth," said Yencho. "In the first game they dumped the ball down to the post a lot, and they also got second shots. We wanted to do a better job of limiting the touches in the post and rebounding the basketball. I was very happy with the job our girls did on Harris in the first half. We were very happy with the guard pressure and our post defense."
Gauronsky was also happy with how her players played in the second half, but by then it was too little, too late.
"Credit our kids," said Gauronsky. "They never really gave up. They played real hard in the second half and tried their best to get back into it."
The Bears managed to close within 13 points on three different occassions and actually outscored their opponent 25-19 over the final two periods.
Amber Chieffo, who was in foul trouble most of the evening, managed seven points in the fourth quarter while Meckes ended the contest with seven. Harris was held to just four points but did pull down 14 rebounds.
"I told them they have to look past this," said Gauronsky, whose team was 1-of-17 from the floor in the opening half and finished 10-of-45. They also committed 22 turnovers in the contest. "You can't dwell on it, but you have to have a better mindset coming into the game."
Chickey finished with a game-high 11 points and added eight boards while Kali Shumock and C.J. Hilliard each chipped in with nine.
Shumock 3-2-5-9, Lewis 1-2-3-4, Chickey 3-5-6-11, J.J. Hilliard 2-1-2-5, Pinter 0-0-0-0, C.J. Hilliard 4-1-2-9, Zerbe 2-2-4-6. TOTALS: 15-13-22-44.