Fillies face Line Mtn.
When the Marian girls' basketball team returned to practice earlier this week, its setback in the last Saturday's District 11 Class A Championship game quickly became history.
Marian won't be alone when it comes to forgetting about a district championship loss. The Fillies next opponent, Line Mountain, dropped a 62-40 decision to Lourdes Regional in the District 4 Class A Championship game last weekend.
Come Saturday's 3 p.m. tip-off at Shamokin High School, both teams will look to put their district experiences behind them and focus on a new objective in the opening round of the PIAA State Tournament.
"They had their time to deal with it and now it's over with," said Marian head coach Paul Brutto, of the 32-27 setback to Tri-Valley in the district championship. "We talked about what's in front of us. We didn't even talk about last Saturday at all. We have a good opportunity ahead of us."
After failing to make the state playoffs the last two seasons, Marian is back in familair territory, having qualified for states 14 consecutive years between 1995 and 2008.
For Line Mountain, it's not only its first time back in the state playoffs since 2005, but it's also its initial season playing in Class A.
"I have been with our program for 22 years now and we were double-A the entire time," said Line Mountain coach Mike Reed, who is in his 11th year as head coach. "We are seeing a whole lot of new teams now in both districts and states. But there are some familiar names out there like Marian, who has been a perennial power.
Brutto's knowledge of the Tri-Valley League runner-up Eagles (19-7) was also limited, but he was able to get his hands on a video from Line Mountain's district game.
"They like to shoot the ball a lot from the perimeter because they really don't possess a true post player," Brutto said. "It's a game where tempo will be key and how we handle pressure in the full court.
"If we can handle that, and not turn it over, it will lead them to deal with us a little bit inside where we have a little bit of a size advantage."
While the Fillies will rely on 5-11 Gillian Ferko and 5-9 Danielle Tristani inside, the Eagles height comes primarily from forward Kelsey Lagerman, who stands 5-8 and averages 6.2 points per game.
Line Mountain leading scorers are guards Mikhail Whitcomb (5-5; 14.5 points per game), Kasey Long (5-6; 12.4 ppg) and Paige Swineford (5-7; 10.4 ppg). Senior forward Maggle Fessler (3.2 ppg), who stands 5-6 finishes off the starting lineup.
"We don't want to get in an up-and-down game and lose our interior advantage where we're just settling for long and quick shots," said Brutto. "So, we have to get the ball inside to our post players and let them do some work."
Being "out-sized" is nothing new to Reed and his staff.
"It's something that we have dealt with pretty much all year. We've had to deal with it in just about every game we get in," Reed said. "We're pretty much going to have to keep the game up-tempo and try to run the floor and put pressure on their guards so they have a little bit of trouble trying to get the ball inside."
While it looks like it may turn into a David vs. Goliath battle, Marian is hoping the rock definitely falls in its favor.
"Now it's a lose and go home deal," Brutto said. "So, hopefully we play with that sense of urgency. If we can get one under our belt, we feel that we can get another one.
"The big deal here is just moving on. It doesn't matter pretty or ugly it gets you another game and we're excited about that. We feel good about our chances. Hopefully, we will play well on Saturday and show people that we deserve to be there."