Old Forge’s Andi Alsalahat (20) dribbles between two PA defenders during the Blue Devils loss on Tuesday.photo by rick notari
Pittston Area’s Charley Zanta (1) wraps a pass around Lady Warriors (55) center Becca Zielen during the Lady Patriots win.photo by charlotte bartizek
PIttston Area’s Mia Hopkins (23) blocks the shot of Wyoming Area’s Becca Zielen (55) during the Lady Patriots victory on Monday.photo by charlotte bartizek
Pittston Area Head Coach Kathy Healey knows the importance of using the explosive talent that is sophomore Mia Hopkins. And the Lady Patriots are starting to realize that importance as well.
Hopkins proved once again why she is such a dominate force in the Wyoming Valley Conference, tallying 18 points while ripping down 17 rebounds as she propelled Pittston Area to a 46-41 come-from-behind victory against Wyoming Area in an exhibition game on Monday night at the Thomas R. Kelly Gymnasium in Yatesville. The Lady Warriors beat PA in the Consolation Game of the Marseco Memorial Tournament at Old Forge earlier this year.
The Lady Warriors jumped out to an early lead as senior Katie Scalzo scored five of her team high 14 points during the first quarter. Swing-man Aubrey Wargowsky connected on nine points during the first half, including a three-pointer as PA had no answer for the Lady Warriors sudden offensive surge.
Leading 25-21 at half, Wyoming Area was able to hold Hopkins, the Pittston Area’s leading scorer, in check throughout the first half. Using a triangle-and-two defense isolating Hopkins and junior guard Grace O’Neill, the Lady Warriors defense stepped up.
However the Lady Warriors offense struggled finding the rim throughout the third quarter, connecting on just two field goals. The drought allowed the Lady Patriots to crawl back into the contest as Hopkins and O’Neil combined for eight of the Patriots 10 points during their third quarter comeback.
“We actually work on this a lot during practice,” said Healey in regards to preparing for the unorthodox defense. “We know teams might show this type of formation. We just need somebody else to step up and score.”
As the Warriors switched to man to man, the Patriots were able to find O’Neill off a hard screen as she connected on her second three-pointer on the night, tying the game at 28 with less than two minutes remaining in the third.
Clinging to a 31-30 lead entering the final stanza, it was Pittston Area’s defense and clutch free throw shooting that proved dividends within the final minutes.
Forcing five turnovers and connecting for nine of PA’s 15 points scored during the fourth, O’Neill sealed the deal by connecting on four straight free-throws.
“The lead at half really got us fired up. The kids were determined to win,” Healey said about her team’s second half effort.
“They played hard and thought about the game as they shut down their inside game a little bit. I’m really proud of them. They really came through in the clutch.”
Along with her 18 points, Hopkins recorded three blocks and had 17 rebounds. O’Neill dropped in 13 points for Pittston Area, and Charley Zanta chipped in with six points.
Scalzo led Wyoming Area with 14 points and nine boards. Wargowsky added nine points for WA, and Sara Radzwilka and Serra Degnan each chipped in with seven points.
Old Forge limited Pittston Area’s Mia Hopkins to just five made free throws for the better part of the first three quarters, but it was not enough has Hopkins scored 12 of her game-high 17 points in the final 9:25 as the Lady Patriots won its second straight game in a 42-37 victory at the Thomas R. Kelly Gymnasium in Yatesville on Tuesday night.
The Blue Devils held Hopkins without a field goal for the first 22:35 of the game but that didn’t stop the super sophomore from dominating in other ways. Hopkins hauled in eight rebounds, handed out four assists and blocked three shots despite getting off to an 0-for-8 start from the field.
Pittston Area started the game on an 8-0 run as Hopkins went 3-for-4 from the free throw line and Grace O’Neill scored five of her 10 during the first 3:40 of the game.
But Old Forge battled back to within 10-8 at the quarter as Nicole Marianelli and Lindsay Regan drilled three-pointers to go with a Marianelli layup off a pass from Andi Alsalahat.
Marianelli then gave the Blue Devils their first lead, 11-10, as she hit a triple to open the second quarter.
Shannon Gilhooley gave Pittston Area the lead back on the next possession with a bucket off of an offensive rebound as the teams exchanged the lead for the next four minutes.
Charley Zanta made a steal and a layup to extend the PA lead to 16-13 with 3:15 left, but Old Forge scored four straight points at the free throw line to take a 17-16 lead with 1:01 left before halftime.
The Lady Patriots took the lead into the locker room when Kelly Mitchell scored after grabbing a rebound with 45 seconds left in the second. Pittston Area kept the lead for the first four minutes of the third quarter before the Blue Devils tied it at 20-20 on a free throw by Alsalahat.
From there it was all Hopkins.
The sophomore drove the lane before kicking the ball to O’Neill who drained her 22nd three-pointer of the season to give PA a 24-20 lead. Hopkins then scored her first field goal of the game at the 1:25 mark of the third period and followed with a steal and a bucket to increase the Lady Patriots lead to 28-20 with 35 seconds left.
Marianelli kept it close entering the fourth as she buried her third trey with five seconds left in the third. Brittany Souryavong then scored on an offensive rebound to open the fourth and the Blue Devils were back within three at 28-25 with 6:51 left in the game.
O’Neill answered with a bucket, but Souryavong came right back and score an old fashioned three-point play to cut the deficit to 30-28 with 4:01 left.
Hopkins battled for an offensive rebound before powering up for another bucket while being fouled. She drilled the free throw to push the lead back to five at 33-28.
Old Forge would not go away as Alsalahat drilled a three-pointer, but Hopkins was there again to stem the tide.
Hopkins made three straight free throws and Gilhooley followed with two more from the charity stripe to give PA a seemingly comfortable lead at 38-31 with 28 seconds remaining.
But Alsalahat banked in a three-pointer on the ensuing possession before making a steal and dishing to Regan who buried a triple to get Old Forge within 38-37 with 13 seconds left.
Hopkins then salted the game away with two more free throws before Kristen Fereck made a steal and two free throws for the final margin.
Hopkins went 11-for-13 from the free throw line on the night, including six-of-seven in the fourth quarter. She also pulled down 13 rebounds and handed out five assists.
Gilhooley added seven points and 10 rebounds for the Lady Patriots, and Zanta chipped in with four points and five rebounds.
Marianelli led the Blue Devils with 12 points. Regan added 10 points and 10 rebounds, and Alsalahat chipped in with nine points and six rebounds. Souryavong added five points and three boards for Old Forge.
Old Forge used a 26-10 run over the middle quarters to get past Lackawanna Trail, 54-36, in a Lackawanna League exhibition game last Thursday in Tunnel Hill.
The senior trio of Andi Alsalahat, Nicole Marianelli and Lindsay Regan outscored the Lady Lions , contributing 44 points on the night.
Alsalahat scored a season-best 17, including three three-pointers to lead the Blue Devils. Regan added 15, and Marianelli chipped in with 12 for Old Forge. The threesome also combined to shoot 10-for-15 from the free throw line.
Old Forge won the JV game, 44-27, as Taylor Nemetz scored 11 points.
Dispatch Staff Writer Rick Notari contributed to this report.
Editor’s Note: Thursday’s games will appear in next week’s edition as they were played after Holiday Deadlines.
PA v. Berwick
WA at Holy Redeemer
OF at Riverside
PA v. Crestwood
WA v. Tunkhannock
OF v. Western Wayne