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Blue Devils dethroned by Forest City

Foresters dominate third quarter on way to 61-44 win for D2 Class 1A crown

Old Forge’s Lauren Carey, right, looks to pass against Northwest Area defender Taylor Mazonkey in a District 2 Class A girls semifinal game at Pittston Area High School on Wednesday night. The Blue Devils beat the Rangers to advance to their fourth straight final.


Above, Old Forge players Nicole Marianelli, left, and Lauren Carey fight for a rebound against Northwest Area’s Taylor Mazonkey in a District 2 Class A girls semifinal game at Pittston Area High School on Wednesday night. Below left, Morgan Malia puts up a shot for the Blue Devils, and below right, Lindsay Regan goes strong to the basket against Northwest.

photos by BILL TARUTIS

Old Forge’s reign in District 2 Class 1A girls’ basketball came to an abrupt end on Saturday afternoon in Carbondale as Forest City finally broke through to beat the Blue Devils, 61-44, at the Peter Turonis Gymnasium at Carbondale Area High School. The loss ends Old Forge’s three-year run as the district’s small-school champ.

The Blue Devils took advantage of some early Forest City jitters as they forced the top-seeded Lady Foresters into 12 first-half turnovers. The sloppy play by Forest City kept Old Forge close as the Blue Devils trailed just 9-8 after the first quarter and 17-14 at halftime.

Nicole Marianelli paced Old Forge (12-12) in the first half with nine of her team-high 15 points. The senior forward drilled her second three-pointer off an assist from Lauren Carey to get the Blue Devils within 9-8 at the end of the first, and then scored on a layup off a feed from Lindsay Regan to give the second-seed a 14-12 lead with 5:11 left in the first half.

But Forest City came right back with a 5-0 run to end the half as Carly Erdmann drilled her third triple of half to give the Lady Foresters the lead. Erdmann had 11 of her team’s 17 points in the first half.

Andi Alsalahat made a steal before going coast-to-coast for a layup and a foul to get Old Forge within 17-16 to start the third quarter. But Alsalahat missed the ensuing free throw, and after forcing two straight possessions with a turnover, Forest City went on an 8-2 run to take a 25-18 lead with 5:32 left in the third quarter.

Carey stopped the run with an old fashioned three-point play to get Old Forge within 25-21, but the Lady Foresters finished the quarter on a 15-3 spurt to open up a 40-24 lead entering the fourth quarter. Erdmann scored nine points during the 23-point third quarter for Forest City, and Katie Yale – who sat the last five minutes of the second quarter with three fouls – added eight points inside. Yale would scored 18 of her 20 points in the second half for FC.

Forest City opened its lead to 45-24 with 5:57 left in the game but Old Forge fought back to get within 51-37 with 3:31 left as Carey and Regan scored four points each during a 13-6 run.

But the Blue Devils could get no closer as Forest City converted 6-of-10 from the line down the stretch.

Carey finished with 11 points, six rebounds and three assists for Old Forge, and Regan added nine points. Alsalahat scored seven points and four rebounds, and Dana Bilski chipped in with five rebounds and two assists.

The loss sends Old Forge into a PIAA Class 1A play-in game on Tuesday at Harrisburg Christian (20-6). The Lady Knights are the fourth-seed from District 3 and are coming off the first 20-win season in school history and will be making their school’s first appearance ever in a PIAA game.

Harrisburg Christian plays mostly Christian and small private schools and competes in the Commonwealth Christian Athletic Conference. Five of their six losses came at the hands of public schools. They defeated Clarks Summit-based Bible Baptist earlier this season, 55-29.

A win by the Blue Devils on Tuesday puts them into a first-round matchup on Saturday against the winner of the District 1 title game between Delco Christian and Sacred Heart.

OF 39, Northwest 19

Despite shooting just 33 percent from the field and turning the ball over 18 times, Old Forge easily beat back Northwest Area, 39-19, in the semifinals of the District 2 Class 1A tournament on Wednesday night in the Thomas R. Kelly Gymnasium at Pittston Area High School in Yatesville.

The Blue Devils ran out to an early 11-0 lead as Andi Alsalahat got things started by scoring on a layup off the opening tip from Nicole Marianelli just five seconds into the game. Alsalahat added three more points during the run, and Marianelli scored twice off of offensive rebounds as Old Forge dominated the offensive glass throughout the contest.

The Lady Randers finally go on the board at the 1:02 mark of the first quarter to trigger a 6-2 run to get within 13-6 with 6:12 to go in the first half.

But the three-time defending district champion Blue Devils came right back with a 7-4 run to take a 20-10 lead at intermission.

Old Forge put the game away in the third quarter by holding Northwest to just four points during a 13-point spurt to take command, 33-14, entering the final stanza.

Marianelli finished with a game-high 15 points for the Blue Devils. The senior forward also added four steals and four assists. Alsalahat added nine points for Old Forge, and Lindsay Regan chipped in with eight points, five rebounds and three assists.

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