At Lourdes Regional, “making states” has become a nearly annual ritual for the Lady Red Raiders’ basketball team.
Under the helm of head coach Mike Klembara for the past 39 seasons, when the month of March comes around, it’s usually time for caravans of Lourdes faithful following their District 4 team across central Pennsylvania, to make long drives to spur their Raiders on in the PIAA tournament.
And such was the case on Wednesday, March 15, as the Lady Red Raiders rolled into Cumberland Valley High School and toppled Shade High School, 55-34, for another trip to the Elite 8 in girls’ 1A competition.
“We always say the same thing over and over again going into states – you have five games to go. Of course, now we have three to go,” Klembara said after the Sweet 16 win. “I said to the girls tonight in the locker room, ‘Number one, congratulations. Number two, the coaching staff I have basically devised our game plan.’”
The plan was a box-and-one defense against Shade standout Jenna Muha, a Frostburg State commit who averages 32 points per game. Lourdes’ defense limited the 6-foot-2 Muha to 20 points, restricting her to just nine in the first half.
Offensively, the Red Raiders were led by Paityn Moyer and Masie Reed, with 20 and 19 points, respectively. Lourdes faces St. John Neumann, to whom they lost in the District 4 semifinals, on March 18.
It will be the ninth trip to the Elite 8 for Coach Klembara, who has more than 770 wins as Lourdes’ basketball coach.
And while he’ll be the first to say he doesn’t pay attention to that overall number, there is something to be said for his approach with leading student-athletes in the game for 39 seasons.
“Any team that you coach has to buy in to what you’re selling. They’ve bought in for years upon years upon years. We certainly do appreciate it,” Coach Klembara told The Catholic Witness. “Lourdes is a great place for an education, and I think it’s a great opportunity to go on to the next level of their education. We have three seniors this year, and all of them are already accepted into colleges. I don’t think any one of them are playing sports in college; that doesn’t mean they’re not good athletes, it’s just that they realize the strongest commitment they got out of high school is that you need to get an education. That’s the way it should be.”
(Photos by Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness.)
By Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness