NEW HOLLAND — This wasn't a remake of ' Castaway.'
Pegged by many to be a lopsided affair, Methacton — the 10th-place finisher out of District 1 — wouldn't let recently crowned District 3 champion Wilson drift away with a smooth sailing victory.
Instead the Warriors whipped out their pens and started rewriting the script, putting together what head coach Craig Kaminski called an ' all-around complete effort' yet the final scene didn't include a happy ending for Methacton in a 44-43 loss to Wilson in the opening round of the PIAA Class AAAA playoffs on Friday night at Garden Spot High School.
"They (Wilson) came in as preseason favorites and are even now favorites to win the state,' Kaminski said. "We executed our game plan and the girls played hard. They did everything that I could ask them to do as a coach and I am extremely proud of them.
"We didn't have a chance, we shouldn't show up,' Kaminski said of the predictions he had heard for the Warriors' PIAA opener. "We talked about that at practice and we showed up and played.'
Like Tom Hanks in the 2000 film failed to do, the Warriors kept Wilson by their side, going on a 8-2 run late in the fourth courtesy of free throws from Jenna Carroll and Tejarra Ellis to tie the game at 42 — the first time the Warriors hadn't been trailing since they led 2-0 in the opening ticks of the game. However, Methacton failed to seize control of the game as a Carroll jumper and a highly-contested jumper by Ellis failed to scorch the twine, paving the way for Wilson's Carley Brew and Avery Marz to seal it at the line.
"We all wanted to go farther in states instead of being one-and-done but it's just the way it is,' Kaminski said.
With the victory, Wilson will face District 1's Abington — a 55-36 victor over District 11 runner-up Pocono Mountain West — in the second round of the PIAA-AAAA playoffs, March 11 at a time and destination to be announced.
For Wilson's head coach Doug Myer, a struggle in the first round at Garden Spot is nothing new to the team. Wilson had a hard time disposing Garnet Valley in last year's opener before being bounced in the second round by North Penn.
"They are a super talented team,' Myer said of Methacton. "We didn't play our best game tonight but most of that has to do with how Methacton played. We'll regroup and move on after this game and try to play better the next. We'll have to.'
"I told the kids in the locker room afterwards that when a team comes back in the last two minutes and ties a game like that, most teams lose that game,' Myer said. "We kept our composure on both ends, the errors that we made weren't mental, they were physical.'
Brew, a James Madison commit, was doubled down in the low post throughout, limiting her productivity early. Rather, the play of Marz shined for Wilson in the first half as the St. Joseph's commit found it easy going to penetrate the lane, slashing the Warriors for 10 points in the half — seven of those coming in the second quarter as the team built a 25-19 lead (thanks to a Shannon a O'Brien 3-pointer at the buzzer) heading into the break.
"We knew all along we were going to play zone,' Kaminski said. "If they were going to beat us they gotta beat us from the outside.
"We knew No. 21 Marz was a great shooter so we had to key in on her and just let the other girls beat us. We couldn't let Brew and Wallace beat us inside and we did a good job on the three of them. We executed our game plan.'
However, with fellow D-1 commit Jessie Wallace (Rider) in foul trouble throughout, Brew sprung for eight of her team-high 14 points in the second half and took on the tough task of guarding the physical Ellis for the latter portions of the game.
The effort put forth saw a negative impact late as Brew had a hard time converting on foul shots with less than a minute remaining, air-balling the one before her last free throw hit the front of the rim, prompting Ellis to heave a 70-foot prayer as the buzzer sounded to try and give the Warriors the victory — that prayer went unanswered.
"Carley tends to get stronger inside as the game goes on and she's getting smarter about it,' Myer said. "Jessie Wallace got in foul trouble, so Carley had to guard (Ellis) and she did a nice job on her. At the end of the game she was flat out exhausted. She hasn't missed free throws like that all year. To her credit she got rebounds when we needed it and got the stops when we needed it.'
The game marked the culmination of the careers of Kelly Glatthorn and Jenna Carroll, both 1,000-point scorers, and Kara Steinke and Amber Szkaradnik — all who led the Warriors to a 20-10 record in 2013-2014 and berths into the PIAA playoffs the past two seasons. Glatthorn and Carroll, for the 21st time this season, both registered in double digits as both scored 14 points in an attempt to quell the speculation that the Warriors couldn't compete with the District 3 champion.
"People had Wilson this year to win the state title,' Carroll, who finished the season with 387 points (12.9 ppg) said. "We know we're as good as anyone we play with if we play with heart. We knew we were coming in fired up and I think we gave them one of the better games they are going to see. We're proud of what we did this season.'
The mere notion of winning seemed to be an afterthought as Glatthorn, Carroll and the Warrior squad found Wilson drifting away in the third quarter, grasping a 10-point lead with under two minutes remaining in the frame.
But as Kaminski has preached, sometimes heart can outdo talent — even a team with enough talent that has produced four Division I recruits.
"Coach says we're the team that wins with heart,' Carroll said. "That's what we do.'
The heart of the Warriors had brought the team to within one after falling behind by five in the first and second quarters before going on a momentous comeback to close out the game. Unfortunately for the Warriors, the talent of Wilson was too much to overcome.
As Wilson moves on, Glatthorn, Carroll, Steinke and Szkaradnik close out their Warriors' portion of their script. Glatthorn finished the season ranked No. 3 in the area in scoring, averaging 14.2 points per game, but will remember her time spent with the seniors.
"We've been playing with each other for the last 10 years,' Glatthorn said, surrounded by Carroll and Steinke. "It's hard knowing its our last time playing with each other.'
"We know each other better than anyone else,' Steinke added. "We just give it everything we've got and picked up each other when things got tough.'
"It's difficult,' Carroll finished. "We'll always have great memories. It's been incredible playing with these guys.'
Those memories, according to the group, surely won't be fleeting.
Follow Sam Stewart on Twitter @Samuel_Stewart7