LORETTO - When Homer-Center's Kaitlyn Skinner made three free throws with 52.8 seconds left to cut Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic's lead, which had once been 17, to four, the Lady Marauders got some reassurance from a sophomore.
"I just kept telling the girls that we needed to stay calm," BG 10th grader Kayla Bates said. "We just had to run our plays, and I thought we did a really good job. It was a little tough, but I thought we worked really hard together."
The Lady Marauders listened.
BG girls state semifinals
BG scored the final seven points, including a pair of free throws from Bates, and advanced to their third consecutive PIAA Class A girls state championship with a 52-41 semifinal victory over the Lady Wildcats at DeGol Arena Wednesday.
It was the second time Bishop Guilfoyle defeated Homer-Center in a playoff game at Loretto this month, but this victory meant much more to the Lady Marauders.
Kelsey Livoti, the team's lone starting senior, clutched the net BG cut down after clinching a trip to the Bryce Jordan Center Saturday at noon.
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
Though coach Mark Moschella wasn’t quite ready yet, the Bishop Guilfoyle girls celebrate during the final minute of their team’s win in the semifinals over Homer-Center Wednesday night.
"This means everything to me," Livoti said. "Being a senior, with the year we've had, cutting this down with them is amazing."
The Lady Wildcats won't be the only team taking a second shot at the Lady Marauders. Bishop Guilfoyle will take on the team it opened its season against, Steelton-Highspire, in the title game.
BG won that game, 56-46, but the contest was 30 games ago and was at the Pleasant Valley Gymnasium.
"We're going to have to be focused," Bishop Guilfoyle coach Mark Moschella said. "No matter who our opponent is, our kids will definitely be ready for whoever we play in the state championship game."
Bishop Guilfoyle certainly seemed focused Wednesday.
After Skinner, who led Homer-Center with 16 points, converted a traditional three-point play to give the Lady Wildcats a 10-9 lead with 1:27 left in the first quarter, BG scored the final four points on a Halee Adams free throw and a 3-pointer in the final 10 seconds.
Of the Lady Marauders' 13 first-quarter points, Adams scored 11. The sophomore star finished with a team-high 16.
In the second quarter, Adams' teammates took center stage.
Devin Stessney opened with a 3-pointer, Livoti scored four points and Bates nailed a trey as BG outscored the Lady Wildcats, 12-4, and took an 11-point lead into the half.
"It was real big to have a run before halftime, because it allowed us to dictate the tempo of the game," Moschella said.
The Lady Marauders extended their lead to 36-19 when Elyssa Ehredt, who had 13 rebounds, made a layup, but Homer-Center had one final run.
The Lady Wildcats went on a 16-3 run to cut the lead to four with just less than 7 minutes remaining. During that stretch, Homer-Center made four 3-pointers but were 0-for-11 from behind the arc following the run.
"We just had to keep our composure like we did last game," Livoti said. "I think that's our strong point. We definitely knew [Skinner] was a good 3-point shooter, and then other people on their team started hitting some 3-pointers, so we didn't pack it in as tightly as we were and that helped."
It was second consecutive year Bishop Guilfoyle has had to defeat the team it defeated in the district title game a second time. The Lady Marauders topped Northern Cambria in the state final last year.
"The shots just didn't fall," Homer-Center coach Tom Lasher said. "This game played out almost the same as the district title game. Our press was better, and we improved in some facets of the game, but some things happened that I don't agree with. But they happened, and that's the game."
Joining Adams in double figures were Stessney and Livoti, who both scored 11.
"It feels amazing to be going back to the state title game," Livoti said. "Especially this year, because I'm a senior and I wanted to have this so bad."
BISHOP GUILFOYLE (52): Ehredt 2 2-3 6, Bates 1 5-6 8, Stessney 4 1-2 11, Livoti 3 5-6 11, Adams 5 5-7 16. Totals - 15 18-24 52.
HOMER-CENTER (41): Skinner 4 6-6 16, McLoughlin 0 0-0 0, Rossi 4 3-3 14, Rura 1 0-0 3, Valyo 1 0-0 2, Horel 2 0-0 4, Ireland 1 0-0 2. Totals - 13 9-9 41.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Bishop Guilfoyle13 12 13 14 - 52
Homer-Center10 4 13 14 - 41
3-point goals: Bishop Guilfoyle 4 (Stessney 2, Bates, Adams); Homer-Center 6 (Rossi 3, Skinner 2, Rura).
Records: Bishop Guilfoyle (29-1); Homer-Center (22-7).
Officials: Dan Gales, Tom Fountain, Jeff Fisher