'The Play' that saved Marian's season
Bob Ford/times news filephoto Marian coach Paul Brutto talks to his team during a state playoff game against Harrisburg Christian last week.
That's all that stood between Marian and a one and done postseason.
Trailing underdog Notre Dame of East Stroudsburg by two points with just :08 remaining in their District 11 semifinal game, the Fillies were inbounding the ball just inside the midcourt line.
Marian was on life-support. Its season was about to expire.
That's when the Fillies ran "The Play."
The call was "box out of bounds" - and it worked to perfection.
Marian's Danielle Tristani got free for an uncontested layup that tied the game and forced overtime.
And, as they say, the rest is history.
The Fillies controlled overtime and went on to defeat the Spartans, 48-42. Four games later, they are still playing.
Marian has gone from near elimination in the District 11 Class A semifinals to a berth in the PIAA Class A State semifinals.
And it all traces back to "The Play."
As it turns out, Tristani's layup came on what probably will go down in Fillie history as the best play head coach Paul Brutto never called. That's right, Brutto never called "box out of bounds."
"It's funny because I've gotten some credit for calling that play, but I was actually calling a different play," explained Brutto. "I don't know if it was the noise in the gym or the pressure of the moment, but we weren't lined up for the play I was calling.
"Somebody else yelled out 'box' and that's what the girls on the court heard and ran. I don't know if it was one of our assistants or one of our players. With all the excitement following the play and then the overtime, I never really asked who made the call."
Marian senior Kaysi McLaughlin was able to solve the mystery of the play call, however.
Saturday, after the Fillies state quarterfinal round victory over Old Forge, McLaughlin reflected back on that opening game of districts and the frantic final seconds of regulation.
"Danielle [Tristani] heard coach's call, but she yelled 'no, we have to run box,'" recalled McLaughlin. "So that's what we did."
McLaughlin, who teamed with Gabby Green to set a screen for Tristani on the play, said it took perfect execution by everyone on the floor.
"We go over inbounds plays and game situations all the time at practice and it really paid off," said McLaughlin. "Emily [Sofranko] deserves a lot of credit. She was inbounding the ball and made a perfect pass.
"The screens worked and Danielle got open. She made the catch and then put it in."
Brutto also talked about the execution.
"We run that play at practice and it doesn't always work as perfectly as it did against Notre Dame," said Brutto. "That's not an easy pass and sometimes we don't hit the cutter with it, other times the pass is there but we fumble it or kick it out bounds, other times we don't get a good enough screen on the defender.
"But when we needed it in that game, everybody did their job perfectly. Great pass, great screen, great finish by Danielle. That's exactly how you draw it up."
One thing is for sure, executing "The Play" to perfection, has allowed the Fillies to keep playing.
"When you look back, it might be the biggest play of our season," said Brutto.
It's obvious that Tristani knew exactly what she was doing when she made the call.