Warriors fall in PIAA semifinals, reflect on state playoff run. (Teddy Feinberg/GameTimePA.com)
SHILLINGTON - Tyler Williams' face may have been streaked with tears, but the Susquehannock senior wasn't upset.
The Warriors season had just come to an end Tuesday night with a 56-41 loss to Archbishop Wood in the PIAA Class 5A semifinals at Governor Mifflin Intermediate School. While she admitted to being disappointed, Williams was already thinking about how proud she was of her team for making it so far into the postseason.
"It was such a great way to go out," Williams said. "I couldn't ask for anything more. No regrets, no bad memories. We couldn't have done anything else in this game. We left it all out there. It's sad because it's over."
Susquehannock head coach Dave Schreiner had a similar message. Though he thought his team had a legitimate chance to win, the longtime coach said he hopes his players will focus on the positives when looking back on the season.
Not only did the Warriors reach the state semifinals, they became the first team in Susquehannock history to win a PIAA playoff game, capture a District 3 title and win 26 games.
"They're the best basketball team that's ever went through Susquehannock High School," Schreiner said. "The one thing they have, five years from now, 10 years from now when they see each other, they can say, 'I was a part of the best basketball team we ever had.' It was a great ride for them, and we didn't think it would end tonight."
Early on Tuesday, it didn't look like the Warriors' season would end against Archbishop Wood. Susquehannock started fast and led by seven after the first quarter, as the Vikings couldn't find their shot and turned the ball over six times in the opening period.
But the Vikings would heat up, starting the second on a 9-2 run to tie the game. While Susquehannock answered and led by three in the final minute of the half, Archbishop Wood's Katie May nailed a 3-pointer shortly before the buzzer to tie the game at halftime.
The Vikings took control in the second half, holding the Warriors to six points in the third quarter and zero in the first five minutes of the fourth to take a commanding 20-point lead. A late Susquehannock rally ended a 15-0 Archbishop Wood run, but wasn't enough to win the game.
Depth was also a key factor in the contest, as Susquehannock didn't make a substitution until the fourth quarter.
"They played the best man-to-man pressure defense we've been against all year, that's for sure," Schreiner said. "They hit some shots, and we got tired. They're bringing a lot of people off the bench that could all play and we really couldn't sub that much."
Schreiner said he "did not think the officiating was very good," but credited Archbishop Wood for earning the win. The Vikings hit eight 3-pointers and got points from nine different players while the Warriors only got points from their five starters. Jaden Walker and Jayla Galbreath led Suquehannock with 10 points apiece.
With only one senior (Williams) on this season's team, Susquehannock will enter next season with plenty of talent and experience.
"It's always been one of the things, trying to keep kids in the program," Schreiner said. "Hopefully this will help build our program. I think that's what it's all about. As a coach, winning games is important, but what's really important is building it from the bottom up."