District 2 Girls Game Recap (Hazleton Area vs. Berwick)

Written by: on Wednesday, February 24th, 2021

 

 

February 23, 2021

 

Berwick Outlasts Hazleton Area to take Division Lead

 

Berwick 40, Hazleton Area 38

 

By Phil T.

HAZLETON – After losing their lead midway through the third period, Berwick found themselves with an opportunity to retake the advantage with only seconds remaining on the clock.  Junior Rachel Whitenight drove the court, but the stingy defense from Jaya Franek caused her shot to be off target.  Fortunately for the Lady Bulldogs, the ball would carom right to Renny Murphy who sank the second chance opportunity giving her team a pulsating 40-38 road win to move atop the Wyoming Valley Conference Division 1 standings.

Heading into tonight’s matchup, Hazleton Area led Berwick by a half-game in division play.  Although Berwick came out on top tonight, these two teams will face each other again on Friday with potentially even higher stakes at hand.

After both teams traded buckets to start the game, Katie Starr, the Berwick standout who recently secured both career point and rebound #1,000, would give the Lady Bulldogs the advantage as she scored the final seven points of the opening period to give her team an 11-5 lead.

Berwick would extend their edge to seven points (17-10) in the second stanza, but the Lady Cougars would hold their opponent scoreless for the last 2:07 of the half.  Hazleton Area would force two steals during that span as they closed the gap to a single basket, 17-15 going into the locker rooms.

The Lady Bulldogs would get an early jump coming out of halftime after Starr converted a putback off a missed free throw to go up 20-15, but that is when the Lady Cougars patented defense buckled down.  Hazleton Area stifled the Dawgs’ attack, coming up with three steals in the period as they went on a 10-0 run giving the Lady Cougars their first lead (21-20) since the first quarter.

Murphy would start the final period with a mid-range jumper that tied the game at 25.  Hazleton Area would then go on a 10-3 run, taking a 35-28 lead following a Lacie Kringe free throw with 5:15 remaining.  Berwick would settle down and stage their own rally capped off when Katie Starr sank a free throw after converting a putback layup with 70 seconds remaining in the game to regain the lead 38-37..

On the ensuing possession, Olivia Wolk would get fouled on her way to the basket, placing her at the line for two attempts with her team facing a one-point deficit.  Unfortunately, Hazleton Area’s charity strip woes would continue as Wolk could only convert one the two chances.  After missing the second attempt, however, the Lady Cougars would come down with the rebound and worked on taking the final shot.

After a pair of ensuing timeouts to get their gameplan set, Brooke Boretski would get called for a five-second guarding violation that would give Berwick their game winning final possession.

Katie Starr, who has led Berwick for most of the season, had another great night finishing the game with 19 points to go with 14 rebounds and three blocks.  Murphy added 13 points in her team’s winning effort.

Franek was the only Lady Cougar to reach double-digits on the night finishing the game with 10 points.  Hazleton Area’s struggles from the foul line ultimately proved critical in the tight contest as they converted just five of their eleven opportunities from the charity stripe.  Hazleton Area will now begin a challenging three-game slate if they hope to win the division, visiting Wilkes-Barre Area Wednesday night before traveling for a rematch with the Berwick on Friday night.  They complete their road trip with an away game against Dallas Sunday afternoon.  Berwick will next head to play at Pittston Area on Thursday before completing their regular season with Friday’s pivotal rematch against Hazleton Area.      

 

Special thanks to the Hazleton Area Athletic Department for allowing LLHoops to cover tonight’s game.

 

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