Tamaqua falls to Danville in state opener
Tamaqua’s Emma Kuczynski controls the ball in front of a Danville defender. DON HERB/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS.
SUNBURY – Danville’s game plan was to stop the explosiveness of Tamaqua’s Emma Kuczynski in Saturday’s PIAA Class 4A opening round state playoff game.
The Ironmen defense held Kuczynski to nine points in the second half, slowly pulling away from the Blue Raiders late for a 57-49 win at Shikellamy High School.
“I thought Linae Willians and Emily Heath did a great job on Kuczynski in the second half,” Danville coach Steve Moser said. “She got some points, but she had to earn every one of them. I give those two credit.”
Danville’s Corinna Petrus was the leading scorer in the game with 25 points, including a deep three at the buzzer to end the third quarter and maintain a 10-point lead for the Ironmen.
“Corinna is like the Energizer bunny, she doesn’t stop,” Moser said. “Physical play is right up her alley and she loves it. She gives you 32 minutes of all she’s got.”
The Blue Raiders kept it close with Danville in the first half.
After Danville grabbed an early advantage thanks to a 7-0 run, Tamaqua stormed back to take the lead as Kuczynski scored 11 of her team’s first 16 points. Sophomore Sophia Boyle also played well as she used her speed and quickness to come up with five steals and ignite the Raiders defensively.
“Emma has been doing that all year for us on both ends of the floor with her hustle,” Tamaqua coach Erika Davis said. “Sophia brings that spark off the bench where she was really aggressive on defense.”
Kuczynski’s strong start had Tamaqua in front after one quarter, but Danville rallied to grab a 25-22 haltime edge and then lengthened that in the third quarter.
Moser thought one of the keys was how his team dealt with the pressure applied by a smaller, quicker Raider team.
“I was pleased that we handled their pressure pretty well,” Moser said. “When they did give us a little pressure, I thought we did a pretty good job against it.”
Tamaqua had several nice runs during the first three quarters to reel Danville in when it appeared the Ironmen were taking control. But trailing by double digits entering the fourth period, Tamaqua ran out of comebacks.
With the defeat, the season comes to an end for the Blue Raiders. However, Tamaqua returns its entire roster next season with another year of experience under their belts.
“Today’s loss obviously stings, but I’m super proud of them,” Davis said about her team. “We had five losses coming into today and they came against just two teams (Jim Thorpe three times; Mahanoy Area twice). Both of those teams were District 11 champions.
“We had a phenomenal season. We finished games this year that we wouldn’t have finished last year. It isn’t fun to have a season end, but we have a lot to be proud of.”
HEIGHT … Davis knew coming into the game that Danville’s height advantage could be a problem. “Something we haven’t seen a lot of all year was height,” Davis said. “We knew Danville had height. We really didn’t have an answer for it. They were just so well aggressive. Kudos to them, they’re good on the block. They have an outside and inside game.”
EMOTIONAL … Davis also noted how the Tamaqua locker room was feeling after the 57-49 defeat. “Mixed emotions, I’m sure. We didn’t want to lose obviously, but we had a great season. They’re very proud of that and are a tight-knit group.”
Kane 0-0-0-0, Zuber 2-0-0-6, Hromyak 0-0-0-0, Boyle 1-0-0-3, Titus 3-0-0-6, Hope 0-0-0-0, Frederickson 3-4-4-10, Kuczynski 9-2-3-20, Reinhardt 1-2-2-4. TOTALS: 19-8-9-49.
Outt 2-1-2-5, Heath 0-6-6-6, Petrus 10-4-5-25, Coombe 4-0-1-8, Williams 4-0-0-11, Cope 1-0-0-2. TOTALS: 21-11-14-57.
Tamaqua 14 8 10 17 - 49
Danville 9 16 17 15 - 57
Three-pointers: Tamaqua - Zuber 2, Boyle 1; Danville - Williams 3, Petrus 1.