Mahanoy Area pulls away from Tamaqua
Tamaqua’s Sophie Boyle (21) brings the ball up the court against Mahanoy Area’s Jordan Karmonick. For a photo gallery go to www.tnonline.com. BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS
POTTSVILLE – No matter how many times Tamaqua tried to reach into the box of Valentine’s candy Thursday evening, Mahanoy Area made sure there wasn’t any sweet treats for the Raiders to enjoy.
There were times when Tamaqua seemed poised to claim the top treat — the piece of chocolate with a cheery in the middle. But the Raiders were always left hungry for more.
The Bears used their balanced offense, but more so a tenacious defense on their way to an impressive 46-28 victory. Mahanoy Area swarmed, swatted, out-jumped and out-raced the Raiders time and again in the second half, to break open a game that was tight at halftime.
The victory sends Mahanoy Area into Saturday’s Schuylkill League girls basketball championship game where they’ll meet unbeaten Jim Thorpe.
Tamaqua (19-4) was far from out of the contest, trailing just 26-23 early in the third quarter before the Bears started to cook the Raiders hopes and dismantle the Division I runner-ups.
“Our defense will always lead us,” said Mahanoy Area coach Tom Scheeler.
Indeed that was apparent.
When Kendall Bernardyn flicked in a buzzer-beater to end the third quarter to propel Mahanoy Area to a 36-28 lead, the air in the Tamaqua balloon was about to be released.
“They just did somethings in that third and fourth quarter that enabled them to put space between us,” said Tamaqua coach Erika Davis. “I mean we were right there, but they put so much pressure on Emma (Kuczynski) surrounding her, not letting her get free. They sure didn’t want her to hurt them.”
That strong defense was even more impressive in the fourth quarter as the Bears did not allow a single point.
“It was a killer for us,” said Davis about the eight second-half turnovers her team committed while Mahanoy committed just one. “We seem to be very tentative. We didn’t take shots. We were hesitant. I think we only had about 10 attempts (actually 14) in the second half.”
Mahanoy Area (22-1) opened the final quarter with baskets from Jordan Karmonick and Abby McGee to push its lead to 40-28.
Mahanoy went old school at that point — using Carolina’s famed four corners offense — to take time off the clock and close out the victory.
“I think we had them worn out a little bit,” said Scheeler. ‘We gave them too many second shots in that first half. So I really think we did a great job in the second half to win it.”
Although Mahanoy controlled the game down the stretch, that wasn’t the case in the first half.
Tamaqua trailed just 13-9 after eight minutes and made charge after charge in the second quarter — that came despite the fact that Mahanoy Area had routed the Raiders in early January by nearly 30 points.
Kuczynski and Baylee Reinhardt did their best to turn that result around as they teamed to rattle off Tamaqua’s first six points of the second quarter to tie the game at 15-15. A little while later, a Kuczynski bucket made it 19-19.
But Mahanoy rang up a 6-2 run to sneak off with a 25-21 halftime lead that set the stage for a second half of near-perfect basketball.
SHE’S BACK ... McGee, the Bears’ top player, made her return to the Mahanoy Area lineup after missing six games and nearly the entire month of January after sustaining an ankle injury.
OFF THE GLASS… The Bears picked off 36 rebounds, 13 by McGee and 11 from Madison Cavenas. Raiders had 30 rebounds, 11 from Kuczynski as she posted a double-double.
SMALL CROWD… Usually Martz Hall is jumping for the Schuylkill semis, but the crowd was one of the smallest in years for the doubleheader.
Zuber 0-0-0-0, Hromyak 0-0-0-0, Boyle 0-0-0-0, Titus 3-1-2-7, Frederickson 2-0-0-4, Kuczynski, (Emma) 5-2-4-12, Reinhardt 2-1-2-5. TOTALS: 12-4-8-28
Lawrence 0-0-0-0, Abrachinsky 3-2-2-8, Karmonick 7-0-0-15, Clark 0-0-0-0, McGee, 5-0-1-10, Bernardyn 3-0-0-6, Cavenas 3-1-4-7, Scheeler 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 21-3-7-46.
Tamaqua 9 12 7 0 - 28
Mahanoy 15 10 11 10 - 46
Three-pointers: Tamaqua - None. Mahanoy Area - Karmonick 1.