A teary eyed Kathy Healey walked off the court on Saturday afternoon at North Pocono High School after her Pittston Area Lady Patriots fell to Scranton Prep 40-36 in the first round of the PIAA District 2 Class 3A playoffs.
The Lady Patriots had their chances, led by a strong effort from Mia Hopkins – who poured in 16 points – but the ball wouldn't fall the right way.
"I thought we played hard, but a couple of breaks didn't go our way," said Healey. "The kids played until the buzzer. I think if we made a couple more foul shots it would have been a different game but I am so proud of them."
Hopkins started the scoring with a free throw and offensive rebound put back to give the Lady Patriots a quick 3-0 lead. However, Scranton Prep answered back with five points before Allie Barber hit a three and made a fast break layup to give PA an 8-5 lead. The Classics ended the quarter by hitting four foul shots to regain the lead 9-8.
Barber scored on a slashing layup but Prep answered with one of their own. PA went on a 6-0 run when Hopkins hit a jumper followed by a Jackie Rabender layup and another driving layup by Barber. The Classics scored four to cut the PA lead to 16-15 but Hopkins hit a short jump shot from the paint to give PA an 18-15 halftime lead.
Prep opened the third with a bucket but Hopkins immediately followed with a layup to keep a three-point Pittston Area lead. Prep hit another basket but Hopkins earned a trip to the line where she knocked down both free throws. But the Classics would go on a 9-1 run over the last 1:20 of the third quarter to take a 28-23 lead into the final quarter.
The fourth opened with a strong effort by Grace O'Neill who grabbed two offensive boards before dropping in the layup. Then Kelly Mitchell found Liz Waleski for a wide open jumper to cut the lead to 28-27.
Prep hit a short jumper in the lane but then Waleski found Mitchell for a short baseline jumper to keep the Pittston Area deficit at one.
The Classics hit a shot but O'Neill made her way to the line where she knocked down one of two. Prep then banked in a three from the left wing to push the lead to 35-30 but Hopkins hit a foul shot and O'Neill made a short jump shot to cut the deficit to 35-33 with less than two minutes left.
Having to foul to get the ball back, Pittston Area went down 37-33 after two Prep free throws. A Hopkins foul shot with 13 seconds left cut the lead to three but Scranton Prep would hit three more from the line to ice the game and take home a 40-36 victory.
"They played hard," said Healey. "Prep is a good team and we came to play today."
Hopkins added 12 rebounds, three blocks and one assist for the Lady Patriots.
Barber finished with nine points and two rebounds for PA.
Old Forge will look to regain the District 2 Class 1A title it lost last year when it opens this year's tournament with third-seeded Northwest on Wednesday at a site and time to be determined.
The Blue Devils (15-6) – who won three straight crowns before being beat by Forest City last year - finished third in the always tough Lackawanna League Division II while Northwest (14-8) finished third in WVC Division III. The Lady Rangers were led by the division's leading scorer in Alivia Womelsdorf who poured in 21.4 points per game.
The defending champion Lady Foresters will take on the MMI Prep in the other semifinal. The winners will meet Saturday, March 3 for the title.