It was a tall order for the visitors to beat the Lady Bucks of Dunmore at Pottsville’s venerable Martz Hall in the PIAA Class 3A semifinal in front of a partisan, raucous Lady Bucks crowd on March 20.
Dunmore, in north Scranton, has gone deep in the state playoffs in recent years, so the senior-laden, seasoned team came out fast, holding Lancaster Catholic to just two points in the first quarter while building a 12-point lead.
But Lancaster Catholic (26-4) is no slouch in the experience arena either, since they reached the final four for the third time in the last seven years. The Lady Bucks rattled the Crusaders early with a 2-2-1 zone press that caused a number of turnovers and never let the Crusaders settle into their half-court offense where they could do what they do best – move, cut, screen and knock down open treys.
Lancaster Catholic averages seven three-pointers per game, but only managed to nail three all game, scoring only 37 points. The final score was 43-37 – if not for the Lady Bucks’ ability to convert on several crucial one-and-ones late when the Crusaders were forced to foul, the Crusaders had life until the very end. There’s never any quit in the girls from the Red Rose city. That’s been true forever for this school that has an impeccable winning tradition.
The Lady Bucks are anchored by 6’4” Ciera Toomey, whose 13 points and more importantly 15 rebounds controlled the glass and the paint the entire game. She is bound for the University of North Carolina for a reason – she plays big, plays smart and is a defensive menace inside. Yet, Lancaster Catholic closed the deficit to a two-score game with just under three minutes left despite the Lady Bucks’ relentless defense that coughed up few easy buckets. And that the Crusaders only went 3-8 from the foul line did not help matters much either, if you are a purple and gold fan buried amongst the red, white and blue of Dunmore’s throng.
There will be no surprise if next March Lancaster Catholic contends for its 21st District 3 title and advances deep into the state playoffs again, as they return several key players who will not settle with losing.
“We just weren’t ourselves tonight,” Coach Charlie Dietz told the press after the game. “Give credit to them for that.”
(Photos by Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness.)
By Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness