Wreckers fall in state quarters
Megan Peifer (33) of Weatherly is double teammed by Lourdes’ defenders Katie Sandri (20) and Sierra Coleman (21) during Saturday’s PIAA Class 1A state playoff game. RON GOWER/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
Emily Zoscin of Weatherly splits Lourdes’ defenders Emma Shimko (3) and Frances Czeponis (42). RON GOWER/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
POTTSVILLE – Losing can sometimes be cruel.
On Saturday, the Weatherly girls felt the pain, the anguish, and the finality of having that loss come in the postseason.
Playing at the famed Mecca — better known as Martz Hall — the Wreckers dropped a 52-35 decision to Lourdes Regional in the PIAA Class 1A state quarterfinals.
Weatherly coach Kevin Kringe tried to console his team after the final buzzer signaled the end to the Wreckers’ terrific season. Kringe held court for the final time this season with the young ladies for nearly 35 minutes in a corner of the spacious arena.
“This team was so much fun to be around. When you consider where we started (four years ago) and where we are now, it’s a great accomplishment by these young girls,” said Kringe, whose team won back-to-back District 11 1A championships.
The Wreckers felt comfortable heading into their second matchup of the season against Lourdes. They had lost a two-point decision (50-48) back on Jan. 17, letting a nine-point fourth-quarter lead evaporate in a Schuylkill League contest.
So even though the matchup wasn’t intimidating, Lourdes’ improved play was.
The Red Raiders had a more potent offensive approach this time along with a better defense.
The big concern according to Lourdes’ coach Mike “Kish” Klembara was to keep All-State guard Emily Zoscin off balance and not let Weatherly’s three-point sniper Emily Hoffman free to bury shots.
“We were able to survive,” said Klembara, about Weatherly’s chaotic approach, a mantra that Kringe often hangs his hat on. “Chaos, that’s a way to describe it. We knew we couldn’t turn the ball over 44 times.”
Weatherly started smooth when Hoffman fired in one of her patented triples from the corner, and Abby Hernandez went back-to-back with field goals and also sank a free throw for an 8-4 Wreckers lead.
But that’s when the Raiders turned up the volume and rallied around the hot shooting of Sierra Coleman, who was sensational in the first half nailing all four of her three-point attempts on the way to game honors of 16 points. Coleman’s spurt helped Lourdes to a 10-8 first-quarter lead.
Weatherly put together its best stretch of the game in the second quarter as Hernandez knocked down two quick buckets, Zoscin hit a trey, and Megan Peifer sank two foul shots. When Zoscin stole the ball and coasted to the basket, it created a 21-18 Wrecker lead.
“We had that momentum there, but we just didn’t seem to get totally comfortable with our offense,” said Kringe. “(Their) defense did a lot to disrupt us. They had a great game plan and executed it very well.”
Lourdes wasn’t going to allow Zoscin space at the top of the key using a 2-3 matchup to quell her talents and limit her driving ability.
“We wanted to be aware of her on the court,” Klembara said. “She is such a great penetrator, we had to defend that and we did a nice job.”
Lourdes’ guard Lilly Bickel reversed the momentum just as the first half was about to close with seven quick points and a 25-23 lead.
“They seemed to come to life there,” said Kringe about the final minutes of the half. “You could feel they had some control and it was important for us to come out in the second half with a good start.”
It didn’t come to pass. Lourdes strung together a hot streak, going on an 11-2 run thanks to the strong play of sophomore Emma Shimko. She scored five points in the rally, enabling the Red Raiders to build a 42-30 lead.
“We were off balance for most of the game,” said Kringe. “We did look confused at times on offense, but they caused that with their defense. We just couldn’t get into a good flow.”
Zoscin tried her best to rally the Wreckers, scoring three points to begin the final quarter, but Lourdes’ balance was better as Bickel and 6-1 center Frances Czeponis helped to buoy their team to a 49-33 lead and seal Weatherly’s fate.
“It was a fun ride,” said Kringe. “It was the best in school history for our girls’ program.”
TOUGH SLEDDING … Weatherly could only connect on 12-of-41 shots from the field. Lourdes went 16-for-35 from the floor.
THE END … The Wreckers won a pair of state games and finished with an 18-9 record. Seven seniors depart — Zoscin, Hoffman, Peifer, Hernandez, DeAnna Strouse, Kailyn Jones and Tabitha Hinkle.
Coleman 5-2-3-1-16, Bickel 2-4-4-9, F. Czeponis 3-3-4-9, Shemko 3-1-2-7, Sandri 2-0-0-5, M. Czeponis 1-0-0-3, Reichard 0-2-2-2, Albert 0-1-2-1, Kehler 0-0-0-0, Shaffer 0-0-0-0, Munson 0-0-0-0, Berezovske 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 16-13-17-52.
Zoscin 4-4-6-13, Hernandez 4-1-2-9, Hoffman 2-1-2-7, Peifer 1-2-4-4, James 1-0-0-2, Strouse 0-0-0-0, Miller 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 12-8-15-35.
Lourdes 10 15 17 10 - 52
Weatherly 8 15 7 5 - 35
Three-pointers: Lourdes - Coleman 4, Sandri 1, Bickel 1, M. Czeponis 1; Weatherly - Hoffman 2, Zoscin 1.