POTTSVILLE - No matter how it tried, whether via transition layup, long trey or short jumper in between, the Lebanon Catholic girls basketball team could not buy a bucket late Saturday.
And while the Beavers' defense remained taxing at the other end, yielding only two fourth-quarter field goals, their season was nonetheless shortchanged in the PIAA Class A tournament.
Netting only four points after halftime, Lebanon Catholic dropped a rugged, 25-21 decision to Lourdes in a quarterfinal showdown at Martz Hall. The Red Raiders (22-6) ended the Beavers' campaign for the second straight year, despite three empty trips to the foul line in the final quarter, which kept Catholic's chances alive late. But not one of the handful of last-minute 3-point tries from Allie Warren or Mariah Sholly converted into points, just like Neesha Pierre's drive at 0:30 remaining.
And so the young Beavers (22-7) turn the page to next season and a search for what can push them to the championship level they were nearly one step from reaching over the weekend.
"We had a great year. It hurts right now, but we'll look back and we had an outstanding season," Lebanon Catholic coach Patti Hower said. "We have a lot returning. Hopefully they realize what they need to work on. Some will have to get a better outside shot, we'll get new ball handlers, all that stuff."
A back-and-forth first quarter ended with Lourdes getting the last laugh on a Selina Albert buzzer-beater hoisted just outside the right block. Her lean-in jumper afforded the Red Raiders a five-point lead, which grew to 17-10 early in the second quarter. Bothered by Lourdes' handsy 2-3 zone, the Beavers at last settled in over a 7-0 that closed the half and produced a knotted score at the break.
Allie Warren (5 points) supplied the game-tying bucket on a feed from Pierre in transition at 1:06 left in the half, after Sholly, who scored a team-best seven, had just netted five straight.
But offensive comfort quickly disappeared for both teams over a third quarter that totaled four points, two for each side. Lebanon Catholic never regained it's rhythm against the Red Raiders, who were later boosted by Lilly' Bickel's go-ahead bucket at 3:59 remaining and two ensuing free throws with less than to minutes to play.
"It was nip-and-tuck," Lourdes coach Michael Klembara said. "We just came up with some big shots."
The assessment from the opposing sideline wasn't much different, save for one other major factor,
"We needed better movement against their zone since we practiced it. But when we got out there, we had too much standing," Hower said. "Too many times we didn't do what we were supposed to do."
Lourdes 25, Lebanon Catholic 21
Selina Albert 1 0-0 2, Carnella Bickel 5 1-5 11, Lilly Bickel 1 2-2 4, Frances Czeponis 2 0-6 4, Krissy Kormora 0 2-2 2, Kendall Krebs 1 0-0 2, Jessica Milewski 0 0-0 0. Totals — 10 5-17 25.
Lebanon Catholic (21)
Mariah Sholly 2 2-2 7, Neesha Pierre 1 1-2 3, Allie Warren 2 0-0 5, Jayden Shellehamer 0 0-0 0, Celine Mars 2 0-0 4, Hannah Callihan 1 0-0 2. Totals — 8 3-4 21.
Lourdes_ 13 _ 4_ 2_ 6 _ — _ 25
Lebanon Catholic _ 8 _ 9 _ 2 _ 2 _ — _ 21
3-point goals — Lour 0, LC 2 (Warren, Sholly).