Marian faces Harrisburg Christian
At this point in the season, there are no second chances.
Marian coach Paul Brutto came right out and said it, "It's do or die. You win or you go home."
Brutto and his Marian Fillies, the only basketball team in the TIMES NEWS coverage area still alive, know the circumstances. In the state playoffs, one bad game and your season can end.
Marian will try to continue its march toward Hershey when it meets Harrisburg Christian on Wednesday night at Hamburg High School at 7 p.m. in a PIAA Class A second round playoff game.
Brutto's statement came three days after the Fillies earned their first state playoff win since 2008 with a commanding 65-35 victory over Line Mountain, the same program that ended their season a year ago.
The Fillies now have the opportunity to take the same path they were able to navigate in capturing the state title back in 2008.
Harrisburg Christian, the No. 3 seed out of District 3, stands in the way of the Fillies continuing their state playoff journey.
Unlike a number of the teams in this year's Class A state playoffs, Harrisburg Christian is not a familair face.
Brutto was able to get his hands on some of the Knights' statistics and also has the tape of their opening round game against Math, Civics and Sciences.
Unfortunately for Brutto and the Fillies, Harrisburg Christian's 62-14 victory didn't produce the best scouting report.
"They won that game by a large margin, so it's really hard to get a feel for them because they didn't have much competition," Brutto said. "They were able to do anything they wanted. That makes it hard to to learn a lot."
Brutto knows the Knights hold a 24-4 record and play in the Commonwealth Christian League. After watching the tape, the Fillies' coaching staff noticed the Knights rely on what many of the Fillies' state opponents have done in the past.
"They play all zone," Brutto said. "We feel good about being prepared to see a zone. It's kind of a good scenario that they're almost mirror images of what we saw in recent games against Notre Dame of East Stroudsburg and Line Mountain."
Brutto expects a 2-2-1 three-quarter court zone press and a 2-3 zone near the basket.
Meanwhile, the Fillies will be sticking with their usual man-to-man defense to contain the Knights' two main threats sophomore Creslyn Van Dyck, who averages 10.86 points per game, and senior point guard Kelsey Caylor, who averages 8.39 points per game. Senior forward Carissa Van Dyck averages 7.57.
"Those two kids (Creslyn Van Dyck and Kelsey Caylor) are going to be our focus and we will make sure we know where they are at at all times," Brutto said.
While Marian's scouting reportl on Harrisburg Christian may be a bit vague, Brutto likes his team's chances simply because of Marian's regular season schedule.
"We feel at this point, against a team like this, it comes down to your preparation who you played over the course of the year," Brutto said. "I just think our schedule prepares us very well for what we're going to face in the postseason.
"We played tough teams all year. We're hoping its a major advantage.
"Again, we can talk about it all we want, but we have to go out and prove it on Wednesday."
While there wasn't a big-time opponent that stuck out on Harrisburg Christian's schedule, Marian has played two district champions in Lourdes Regional (District 4 A) and Tri-Valley (District 11 A) and two district runners-up in Mt. Carmel (District 4 AA) and Dunmore (District 2 AA) on its way to a 20-6 record.
One thing Brutto knows for sure he doesn't need to get his Fillies primed.
"I don't think I should have to get our girls excited this time of the year," Brutto said. "I don't think I need to do that. Our kids are excited about what's in front of them. They understand they have a great opportunity to move on Wednesday.
"They need to go out and take care of things and hopefully we get to play the winner of the Lebanon Catholic/Old Forge game on Saturday."