INDIANA - Trailing by six early in the third quarter, Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic's Halee Adams drove to the basket and laid in a shot as an official's whistle blew, signaling a foul.
For a second it seemed like Adams was about to step to the foul line and complete a three-point play to give the Lady Marauders the momentum they needed to rally past Fort Cherry in the teams' PIAA Class A second round state playoff game.
Only, that's not what happened.
Mirror photo by Patrick?Waksmunski
Bishop Guilfoyle’s Kayla Bates shows her emotions following Wednesday night’s loss to Fort Cherry in the PIAA?Class A girls playoffs.
Adams was whistled for a charge, her fourth foul, which negated the basket and put the returning all-state player on the bench for the rest of the quarter. Bishop Guilfoyle never regained the lead, and Fort Cherry eliminated the Lady Marauders, 41-30, at Memorial Field House Wednesday.
"I didn't think the foul was on me," Adams said. "I was excited at first, and then it was just like I don't know how to explain it. I was so upset, because I knew I was coming out, and wouldn't be going back in for a long while."
Bishop Guilfoyle, as it did for the first 14 games of the season when Adams was out recovering from knee surgery, held up well without its junior star, trimming the Lady Rangers' lead to 26-24. However, Fort Cherry's Rachel Bellhy made a jump shot just before the end of the third quarter that stretched the lead back to four.
Adams returned to start the fourth quarter but finished with just four points, none in the second half, before fouling out with 2:09 to play.
"When I went back in, I knew I had to do something for our team," Adams said. "I just felt like I couldn't do anything. I like to drive a lot, and I couldn't drive.
"There were like three or four people on me every time I looked up."
Elyssa Ehredt's layup with 5:45 to play cut the lead back to two, but Fort Cherry's Jessie Merckle scored six straight points to force the Lady Marauders into a must-foul mode. Merckle finished with a game-high 15 points after scoring just 13 points in the entire playoffs combined prior to Wednesday's game.
"Losing Halee [for most of the second half] was huge," Bishop Guilfoyle coach Mark Moschella said. "I give credit to the rest of the basketball team for hanging on until we could get her back into the game, but when you do get her back, she's forced to play cautious basketball. It deflated us."
Bishop Guilfoyle scored the first four points of the game before Fort Cherry used a 10-0 run to close out the first quarter and gain control of the game. The Lady Rangers maintained their six-point lead through the second quarter despite a pair of 3-pointers from BG's Kayla Bates. Bates finished the game as Bishop Guilfoyle's leading scorer with 12 points.
"We switched up defensively between our man and zone and rebounded really well," Fort Cherry coach Bob Miles said. "We limited their shots, and Adams getting into foul trouble was a huge bonus."
Fort Cherry (25-2) was eliminated in the PIAA quarterfinal round, 58-47, by Bishop Guilfoyle a year ago.
"We start five seniors, and they don't want this to be over," Miles said. "It was a big motivational swing to be playing [Bishop Guilfoyle]."
The Lady Marauders (24-3) lose three seniors. Courtney Becker, who transferred from Altoona before the season, finished with six points, and Kate Meck and Haley Bender both played but did not score.
"We really had a good season, despite not having Halee at the beginning of the season," Moschella said. "What these kids accomplished without Halee, and then when Halee came back, for us to get to this point, I think most teams would be pretty satisfied.
"We have three great seniors who are walking out of the program right now, and I couldn't ask for anything more from those three."
Four of Bishop Guilfoyle's five starters will return next season, including Adams and Bates, the Lady Marauders' leading scorer this season.
"I'm looking forward to it so much," Adams said. "I can't even explain it. I want to play right now, but I know I have to get my knee back to normal, because it's not there yet. I'm going to work even harder this offseason."
FORT CHERRY (41): B. Bellhy 4 0-0 8, Slates 0 0-0 0, Merckle 5 5-6 15, McGivern 0 1-2 1, Gasbarro 2 0-0 4, R. Bellhy 5 3-4 13. Totals 16 9-12 41.
BISHOP GUILFOYLE (30): H. Adams 2 0-0 4, Stessney 1 0-0 2, Bates 3 4-4 12, Ehredt 3 0-0 6, Becker 1 4-4 6, Boslet 0 0-0 0, Meck 0 0-0 0, Bender 0 0-0 0. Totals 10 8-8 30.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Fort Cherry 10 10 8 13 - 41
Bishop Guilfoyle 4 10 10 6 - 30
3-pointers: Fort Cherry: none. Bishop Guilfoyle 2 (Bates 2)
Records: Fort Cherry (25-2); Bishop Guilfoyle (24-3).
Officials: Chris Stiglitz, Emery Faith, Colin Gaiser