WINDBER - The Everett girls basketball team will be making its 21st appearance in the District 5 playoff semifinals thanks in part to a tough Sideling Hill League schedule this season.
The Lady Warriors sat in the middle to bottom of the league much of the season as teams like Southern Fulton and Tussey Mountain beat up on them.
Those tough lessons learned paid off Thursday in a 56-50 upset of fourth-seeded and defending District 5 Class AA champion Windber.
"The Altoona Mirror and others said we were a sleeper going in, but I think they awoke a sleeping giant," Everett coach Keith Moyer said. "Coming up with a big win on the road - the girls are very confident right now."
Fifth-seeded Everett (10-12) trailed 7-0, 4:30 into the first quarter, but took advantage of its height advantage to put the Lady Ramblers in foul trouble early.
Windber (14-9) collected three fouls 56 seconds into the game. The fourth-seeded Lady Ramblers had seven fouls with two minutes remaining in the first quarter and had three starters with at least two fouls with a minute remaining.
Everett managed just four points on Aubrea Phipps' four foul shots in the first quarter, trailing 10-4 after one.
"They played really good defense on her," Moyer said. "They were very physical - almost too physical because it got them in foul trouble and got us to the line."
The Lady Warriors came up with a good defensive effort the rest of the game and worked their game plan to perfection Moyer said.
"We woke up after the first 4:30 of the game and started going strong to the net," Moyer said. "We had a size advantage. It was the first time all year everyone bought into going to the hoop strong. That's what you have to do to win on the road in the playoffs."
Everett outscored Windber, 19-8, in the second quarter to lead, 23-18, at the half. Laura Duvall put her team up 18-16 with 2:04 remaining in the quarter and they never trailed after that point. Everett also led in turnovers, 13-8, at the break.
The Lady Warriors outscored the Lady Ramblers, 16-6, in the third quarter as at least three Windber starters sat out at all times.
Everett held its biggest lead, 39-24, after three quarters, before the Lady Ramblers began their comeback.
Senior guard Cheyenne Feathers dropped in all 12 of her points in the final quarter. Senior Jill Penatzer, who averages 14.1 points per game, added six of her 14 points in the fourth.
"You look at the fourth quarter, and that was the heart of our team this year and the heart of the seniors for four years," Windber coach Rich Price said. "We had a pretty emotional meeting after the game, and I told them that is how life is. Whatever it is in life - do your best. We came up short tonight against a pretty physical and tough Everett team, but I'm tickled with the effort."
Windber senior Nicole Vasas smashed her average of 7.4 points per game by leading her team with 17 points. Senior Ongie Null, who fouled out, was limited to four points, two rebounds, two blocks and two steals.
Phipps, a junior who averages 18 points per game, scored 14 of her game-high 20 points in the second half. She also had nine rebounds and two blocks. Senior Rachel Clark added a career-high 14 points for the Lady Warriors.
Everett will face top-seeded Conemaugh Township in the semifinals Tuesday.
EVERETT (56): Beegle 2 0 4, Morral 1 1 3, Phipps 5 10 20, Brallier 2 2 7, Duvall 2 0 4, Clark 6 1 14, Hillenbrand 2 0 4. Totals: 20 14-25 56.
WINDBER (50): Ponczek 0 1 1, Penatzer 5 0 14, Feathers 4 4 12, Vasas 6 2 17, Null 1 2 4, Kormanik 0 2 2 Blough 0 0 0, Nihoff 0 0 0, Navarro 0 0 0, Wentz 0 0 0. Totals: 16 11-14 50.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Everett4 19 16 19 - 56
Windber10 8 6 26 - 50
3-point goals: Everett 2 (Brallier 1, Clark 1); Windber 7 (Penatzer 4, Vasas 3).
Records: Everett (10-12); Windber (14-9).
Officials: Mike Price, Justin Fischer, Craig Elbin.