Pine Grove edges Tamaqua for D-I title
PINE GROVE - For the second time this season, Tamaqua and Pine Grove battled down to the wire before a packed house and a playoff-like atmosphere.
In the first meeting on Jan. 14, Pine Grove handed the Lady Raiders a 62-56 overtime verdict.
This time, Kalene Anderson delivered the game-winner by powering inside for a bucket with 14 seconds left to lift the Lady Cardinals to a 62-60 victory and the Schuylkill League Division I title Monday evening.
Pine Grove (18-2 overall, 10-2 league) will go into next week's Schuylkill playoffs as Division champion, since the Cardinals swept their two meetings to date against the Raiders (18-2, 9-2).
Tamaqua, which had its eight-game win streak snapped, will also be the league playoffs as the D-1 wild card.
The tight finish was no surprise to Pine Grove coach Pam Ryan.
"I told our girls before the game that this would be one, two, three points either way, back and forth, up and down, the whole way, so they had better be ready for it," she said.
Tamaqua's Amy Zehner came up with a sensational performance in defeat.
After being held to 15 points in the first meeting, below her 21.2 points per game average, and nine points in the first half with the Cardinals' Alicia Kimmel draped over her, the 5-11 Zehner exploded for 27 points in the second half, finishing with a career-high 36 points to go with 13 rebounds.
Unfortunately for the Raiders, Zehner fouled out when Anderson hit the go-ahead bucket.
Anderson missed the ensuing free throw, with the Raiders' Cassie Eroh rebounding.
After a time out, with Zehner out of the game, the Cardinals crowded Elissa Streisel, Tamaqua's top three-point shooter, but Streisel drove free to the hoop, with her shot attempt rolling in and out.
Guard Kayla Hope, who had 14 rebounds, got the offensive carom and but her putback did not stay down.
"It was a dogfight, the two of us going toe to toe," said Tamaqua coach Joe Berezwick. "We were hoping to win it with a three there at the end. Elissa made the right decision driving to the basket there, but we didn't get it in."
Tamaqua jumped out to a 6-1 lead on triples by Eroh and Streisel, but the Cards went on a 23-8 run to take their biggest lead at 24-14 on a Corrine Ryan triple with 5:19 before half.
The Raiders cut the deficit to 28-24 at the half. Zehner took over in the third quarter, collecting 15 points, including a triple at the buzzer to put Tamaqua in front 44-43.
"Pine Grove did a good job on Amy in the first half, but she just sucked it up and was determined not to let in happen again. She wouldn't let them keep her down," said Berezwick.
The Cards didn't fold, either. Kaylin Ryan came up with a key three-point play down the stretch, hitting one foul shot, missing the second but picking up the rebound in a scramble for a putback and a 60-58 Pine Grove lead with 48 seconds left.
Zehner hit a pair from the stripe with 25 seconds to go to gain a 60-all deadlock.
Kelly Fidler had 16 points and 16 rebounds to lead Pine Grove.
Pine Grove won the JV game 44-35. Christine Streisel led Tamaqua with 16 points.
Hope 1-0-0-2, Berezwick 0-0-0-0, E. Streisel 3-0-0-8, Eroh 3-0-0-7, Zehner 13-8-8-36, Updike 3-1-2-7. TOTALS: 23-9-10-60.
C. Ryan 5-2-5-15, Dimon 2-0-0-4, Kimmel 4-0-0-9, K. Ryan 5-1-2-14, Copeland 0-0-0-0, Anderson 2-0-1-4, Fidler 6-4-5-16. TOTALS: 24-7-13-62.
Tamaqua 12 12 20 16 - 60
Pine Grove 17 11 15 19 - 62
Three-point goals: T-E. Streisel 2, Zehner 2, Eroh 1; PG-C. Ryan 3, K. Ryan 3, Kimmel 1.