Holy Redeemer Rallies To Win First WVC Championship
HAZLE TWP. — Powered by a strong dash to start the second half, the Hazleton Area girls appeared in control and heading toward their first Wyoming Valley Conference basketball championship Saturday.
Teetering on the ropes and on the verge of being knocked out, Holy Redeemer responded like champions do.
Sarah Kuderka’s rebound basket at the third-quarter buzzer helped turn the tide, fueling a run of 23 straight points that converted a 10-point deficit into a 56-40 Holy Redeemer victory.
The Royals outscored Hazleton Area 26-4 in the fourth quarter and won going away to capture the inaugural WVC Tournament championship on the Cougars’ home floor.
“We came out knowing they’re a great team, and playing in their gym was going to be tough. But our girls handled the pressure,” said Holy Redeemer coach John Jezorwski. “The girls just deserve all the credit. They do everything they need to do to win, and they fought for it.”
After playing with little separation through the first half, Division 1 champ Hazleton Area came out of the locker room on fire to start the third quarter.
Marissa Trivelpiece swished a pair of corner jumpers, including a 3-pointer, Faith Grula maneuvered her way for three baskets in the paint, and Virginia Yurchak nailed a pull-up jumper and a 3-pointer of her own to complete a 16-4 spurt that had the Cougars on top 36-26 with just over three minutes left in the period.
“The pressure was getting to them, the defense was playing real good, things looked really, really good,” Cougars head coach Joe Gavio said. “We made that run, and it looked great.”
After Julia Andrejko’s two free throws with 13 seconds left stopped the bleeding for Redeemer, Kuderka found herself alone under the basket for a putback at the third-quarter horn, making it 36-30 heading to the fourth.
“With 34 seconds left in the third quarter I think we really started to (turn) things around,” Jezorwski said. “Sarah Kuderka’s putback was the difference. Right from there we knew we had the momentum back on our side. Instead of trailing by 10 at the end of the third quarter, we’re only down six.”
That momentum spilled over into the fourth quarter, when Sam Yencha converted a three-point play, Andrejko added a layup and a 3-pointer, and Kuderka followed with a triple from the corner. When Cameron Marcinkowski finished off a fast break, the Division 2 champs were now on top 43-36 and cruising.
Meanwhile, the Cougars went ice cold, missing their final 11 shots from the floor and committing 13 turnovers over the game’s last 11 minutes.
Andrejko led all scorers with 15 points, while Yencha and Marcinkowski added 14 apiece. The trio scored 26 of their 43 combined points after intermission.
“Everybody game plans to take Julia and Sam away from us, and that should be everybody’s game plan against us,” Jezorwski said. “But we have different girls step up all the time. Jordan Cicon’s deep three was incredible, Sarah Kuderka’s putback and the way she controlled the game, and Cameron is just outstanding.”
Yencha scored 10 of her 12 points in the second half, and also led the Lady Royals with 12 rebounds.
“We came out kind of rough, but we pulled it together in the fourth quarter and showed how much we wanted it,” she said. “My teammates did a great job stepping up. They started knocking down open shots and that opened it up for me more. They were doubling me in the post, and I would just kick it out and they would knock it down.”
Trivelpiece paced the Cougars with 12 points and 12 rebounds, Yurchak finished with nine points and Wolk scored nine off the bench.
Yencha, who scored the 1,000th point of her career in Thursday’s semifinal, couldn’t think of a better way to end her most memorable week.
“It feels amazing, just for our team to make history,” she said. “It really feels great, and all our hard work has paid off. We’ll look back on this in a few years and remember all the memories we’ve made as a team. It just feels amazing to end the week on such a good note.”
Holy Redeemer (21-3) moves on to compete in the District 2 Class 3A Tournament, while Hazleton Area (18-6) will be the top seed for the District 2/4 Class 6A Tournament, taking on Delaware Valley next weekend in the semifinal round.
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WVC Girls’ Basketball Championship At Hazleton Area H.S.
HAZLETON AREA (40) — Trivelpiece 4 2-2 12, Fay 0 0-0 0, Antolick 0 1-2 1, Wolk 2 4-4 9, Holodick 0 0-0 0, Zumar 0 0-0 0, Boretski 1 1-2 3, Lipinski 0 0-0 0, Garnett 0 0-0 0, Yurchak 3 2-2 9, LaBuda 0 0-0 0, Grula 3 0-4 6. Totals 13 10-16 40.
HOLY REDEEMER (56) — Spade 1 0-0 2, Kuderka 2 0-3 5, Andrejko 5 4-4 15, Yencha 6 2-2 14, Atherton 1 0-0 3, Gushka 0 0-0 0, Cicon 1 0-0 3, Marcinkowski 6 0-0 14. Totals 22 6-9 56.
HA (18-6) 8 12 16 4 — 40 HR (21-3) 8 14 8 26 — 56
3-point FGs: Trivelpiece 2, Wolk, Yurchak. Marcinkowski 2, Cicon, Atherton, Andrejko, Kuderka.