WILKES-BARRE — After being denied a shot at a district title, the Nanticoke Area Trojanettes came up with a new route to the PIAA girls basketball playoffs.
It turned out to be more like an obstacle course.
But Lisa Radziak came off the bench to score 15 pivotal points Wednesday and Nanticoke Area survived a double-overtime thriller to outlast Wyoming Area, 80-73 in a District 2 Class 3A third-place game at Holy Redeemer High School.
“It was fun to be in that atmosphere, I think,” Trojanettes center Gianna Roberts said.
It was full of momentum swings and lead changes that kept the crowd in suspense until the very end. Wyoming Area’s scoring star Sarah Holweg erupted for 41 points, while Roberts and Kayla Aufiero combined for 52 points for Nanticoke Area in a back-and-forth battle that never allowed either team to feel safe.
“That,” Nanticoke Area coach Alan Yendrzeiwski said, “was a wild one.”
In the end, though, a couple of low-profile players put the Trojanettes in the state playoffs.
Radziak buried a big 3-point field goal with 2:08 to play in the second overtime, giving Nanticoke Area a five-point lead and a sense of some control. Then light-scoring guard Amber Grohowski hit four free throws in the final minute, keeping Wyoming Area from pulling off a frantic comeback.
“I’ll remember this game for the rest of my life,” Grohowski said. “We stayed with it. We didn’t give up. That’s one of our good attributes, we never give up.”
Good thing for Nanticoke Area, too.
The Trojanettes fell behind 19-10 early in the second quarter when Holweg hit three 3-pointers in the end of the first quarter and added a bucket that triggered a six-point Wyoming Area run to open the second.
“The second quarter, we got into one of those funks where we weren’t scoring,” Yendrzeiwski said.
Radziak to the rescue.
The sharp-shooting sophomore buried three 3-pointers in the second period, as Nanticoke Area turned a nine-point deficit into a 28-25 lead by halftime.
“Lisa, she’s a great player, a great shooter,” Roberts, a senior, said. “I couldn’t be more proud of her. And the team couldn’t be more proud of her.”
Roberts got loose for nine of her team-high 29 points in the third quarter as the Trojanettes kept their three-point advantage heading in the final quarter. But Wyoming Area was determined that wouldn’t be its last stand.
Holweg scored 13 points over the last eight minutes of regulation, including two free throws with nine seconds on the clock that sent the game into a first overtime tied at 60-60.
Once there, Holweg had the Warriors out to a four-point lead. But Aufiero – playing through leg cramps and a hamstring strain to score 23 points – used a 3-pointer and a strong inside bucket to tie it at 68-68 with 10 seconds remaining.
That forced a second overtime, where Roberts got the Trojanettes the lead for good with a turn-around bank shot for a bucket.
“My teammates do a good job of penetrating for me,” Roberts said. “Everybody goes to (defend) them. I just get the easy baskets.”
A little later, Radziak made things a lot easier for the Trojanettes.
She drilled her fourth 3-pointer of the night with 2:08 to play in the second overtime, helping Nanticoke Area break away with a 73-68 lead.
“I knew the team needed it,” Radziak said. “We were in overtime. I just try to help the team, do my best.”
Holweg, who scored 11 of Wyoming Area’s final 13 points, had all five of the team’s points in the second overtime.
But Grohowski converted four straight free throws, Aufiero made two more, and Radziak added the game’s final point with 11 seconds to go to seal Nanticoke Area’s third victory over Wyoming Area this season.
That sent the 23-3 Trojanettes to next weekend’s PIAA Class 3A playoffs to play the top team from District 4 next Saturday.
“It’s amazing,” Grohowski, a senior and a three-year starer, said. “We haven’t been there in a few years. For it to be my senior year, it’s great. Being in the state playoffs is an awesome feeling.”
Nanticoke Area 80, Wyoming Area 73 (2OT)
WYOMING AREA (73) — Rachel Solano 4 5-6 13, Sarah Holweg 12 9-12 41, Nicole Wright 4 2-2 10, Lydia Edwards 0 0-0 0, Addison Orzel 2 1-2 5, Jordan Kelly 1 2-2 4, Aleah Kranson 0 0-0 0. Totals 23 19-24 73.
NANTICOKE AREA (80) — Kayla Aufiero 7 5-7 23, Gianna Roberts 12 5-6 29, Katie Butczynski 1 1-1 3, Amber Grohowski 0 4-4 4, Chaquanna Zendarski 2 0-0 4, Lisa Radziak 4 3-4 15, Alexis Pyzia 1 0-0 2. Totals 27 18-22 80.
Three-point goals — WA 8 (Holweg 8); NAN 8 (Aufiero 4, Radziak 4).
Reach Paul Sokoloski at 570-991-6392 or on Twitter @TLPaulSokoloski