STROUDSBURG – With only eight seconds remaining in regulation and perhaps its season, the Marian girls' basketball team found itself down by two points to Notre Dame of East Stroudsburg.
Marian head coach Paul Brutto had just called timeout and was drawing up a play in the huddle.
"It was pretty tense," admitted Brutto. "Our season was basically on the line. We executed that out of bounds play to perfection and Danielle (Tristani) was able to finish the shot. It was a great inbound pass.
"Once we got to overtime – you always like when you send a game into overtime because you have the momentum –we knew that we had new life. We were able to find a way to win."
In front of their own bench, the Fillies lined up in a line formation and found Tristani rolling to the hoop for an uncontested layup. The shot tied the game at 40 and forced overtime. Marian then used the momentum it had gained in the final eight seconds to propel itself to victory, as the Fillies defeated the Spartans 48-42 to advance to the District 11 A championship on Saturday.
Both teams started out a little slow as they worked the nerves out, as each team committed seven turnovers in the first quarter. Marian's full-court press also forced Notre Dame into some bad shots and forced the Spartans to shoot 2-for-12 from the field. The Fillies (4-of-11) didn't do too much better, but managed nine points.
Notre Dame picked up its play in the second and got back into the game thanks to seven points from point guard Rebecca Bailey. Bailey would hurt Marian all night as she finished with a game-high 20 points.
Meanwhile, Kaysi McLaughlin sank two triples in the fame, with her second opening up a 19-13 lead for the locals. Notre Dame answered with a 5-2 run and closed to within three at the break.
Marian then went cold in the second half, as it shot just 2-for-9 in the third quarter and 8-for-25 for the half. The game remained close though as both teams went back and forth down the stretch.
"I thought (Notre Dame's) defense bothered us a lot," Brutto said. "They extended their zone out and we were looking too much on the perimeter instead of trying to hit the gaps. I give them a lot of credit. Kaysi hit some shots in there. She might have been the only one to hit some shots, so they were huge. She was the only one putting points on the board for us.
"I was more disappointed in our defense. That's our calling card and I didn't think we played well on the defensive end. Fortunately it was good enough to keep us going."
Late in the fourth, Notre Dame's Angelica Bertola hit a three to make the score 35-34 in favor of the Spartans. Marian's Kelly Shober answered with her last bucket before fouling out with 1:07 remaining. Notre Dame then scored four straight points before Tristani converted on a layup to pull the Fillies to within one.
Bailey, who had been money from the free throw line all night, picked a bad time to miss as she went 1-for-2 in the waning seconds. The miss allowed Marian to stay within two and gave Tristani the opportunity to make the game-tying layup with six seconds to go.
From then on it was all Marian. Tristani went on to score five of her 14 points in overtime, while Notre Dame failed to make a field goal and settled for a mere two points.
Marian advances to play Tri-Valley in the championship game on Saturday. Although Tri-Valley beat up on Marian twice in the regular season, Brutto is more than happy to be taking his chances.
"It feels great to be playing on Saturday," said Brutto. "We have four seniors that have been very important to the program over the last four years. It's nice to not see their careers end tonight. We get to play for a championship and then at least have another game in states, so I am really happy for them."
Green 1-0-2-2, Faust 0-2-2-2, McLaughlin 4-3-4-15, Sofranko 1-0-0-2, Wilson 0-0-0-0, Shober 6-1-2-13, Tristani 6-2-5-14. TOTALS: 18-8-15-48.
NOTRE DAME (E.S.)
Bailey 4-12-14-20, Bertola 4-2-2-11, LaRezza 1-0-1-2, Leming 1-0-0-2, Oladugbewo 2-3-3-7, L. Pope 0-0-0-0, V. Pope 0-0-0-0, Smith 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 12-17-20-42.
Marian 9 12 7 12 8 - 48
Notre Dame 5 13 8 14 2 - 42
Three-Pointers: M – McLaughlin 4; ND – Bertola 1.