Momentum Swing At End Of 1st Half Keys Black Knights
YATESVILLE — At the time, the five consecutive points Lake-Lehman scored in the final 17.1 seconds of the second quarter to break a tie didn’t seem like that big of a deal. There was plenty of time for the Bulldogs to regain their focus and start fresh in the third quarter.
But those five points certainly found a way to swing the momentum of the game. Lake-Lehman opened the second half with six unanswered points to boost its lead to 11. And from there, the Black Knights were able to control the tempo of the game and post a 36-26 victory, Friday night at Pittston Area in the District 2 Class 4A semifinals.
With the win, Lake-Lehman improved to 19-5 on the year and advanced to next week’s district championship game, where it will face defending champ Scranton Prep. Scranton Prep advanced with a victory over Nanticoke Area. While Lake-Lehman and Scranton Prep will be guaranteed spots in the state playoffs, Berwick and Nanticoke Area will play on Tuesday at a site and time to be announced for the district’s third spot in the state playoffs.
This will be Lake-Lehman’s first trip to the district final since the 2011 season, when it lost to Dunmore.
After Berwick’s Renny Murphy hit a 3-pointer to tie the game, 14-14, with 28 seconds left in the first half, Lehman’s Claire Dougherty hit a jumper. The Black Knights regained possession, and Savannah Purdy’s 3-pointer put the Black Knights up by five at the half.
“That gave us the confidence,” Lake-Lehman coach Charlie Lavan said of the five-point burst. “I thought we got off to a bit of a slow start in the third quarter. We missed some opportunities early in the second half.”
Though the Black Knights did manage to score the first six points of the third quarter, Lavan was referencing the amount of time it took for those six points to get on the board. Corinna Scoblick scored off a turnover at the 4:38 mark. Madison Borum’s bucket on the low block capped the run at the 2:19 mark. But what helped the Black Knights was that Berwick was not scoring at all.
“Our offense was pretty stagnant,” Berwick coach Bill Phillips said. “There was not a lot of movement. Our game plan was to move to the high post and the baseline. I thought Lehman played great. They pounded the boards. They played well.”
What the Black Knights may have lacked as far as offense was concerned in the third quarter, they made up for it on the defensive end of the floor. Lake-Lehman extended its zone defense at the top of the key forcing Berwick to try and run its offensive sets further out beyond the 3-point line. That made for longer passes and more dribbling than Phillips wanted to see.
“With our zone offense, we try to get four out and one to the high post,” Phillips said. “When we did get it out, they pressured us a bit and it is tough to reverse the ball. We are still a young team. This was a tough spot for some of these kids to be in. Some of them never played varsity before. Their eyes get a little bigger. That run going into the half was huge for them.”
The Black Knights were able to take a 10-point lead to the fourth quarter, and six consecutive points — four of them from Sarah Salus — helped open up a 13-point advantage with 2:32 left in the game.
“We wanted to pack in the zone and dare them to shoot a bit,” Phillips said. “It was like both teams were playing a chess match. We were holding the ball trying to milk the clock. It is a game of runs and they had more runs than we did.”
Madison Borum led Lake-Lehman with 10 points and controlled the game down low by grabbing rebounds or altering shots when Berwick tried to penetrate the lane. Murphy led Berwick with 14 points.
“Murphy is tough. She is going to make shots, but we made sure we found the other shooters,” Lavan said. “Once we got it together in the third quarter, I thought we were in good shape. I thought our guards did a good job.”
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