Haley Rhule's 3-pointer just before halftime sent the Williamsburg girls basketball team to the locker room with a standing ovation.
The Lady Pirates earned the respect of the entire crowd in the Altoona Area High School Fieldhouse Thursday night by trailing heavy favorite and perennial District 6 power Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic by just five at the half.
Unfortunately for Williamsburg, the effort also caught the attention of the Lady Marauders.
Bishop Guilfoyle outscored Williamsburg by 19 in the third quarter and pulled away for a 59-39 triumph in the District 6 Class A quarterfinals. Because four teams advance to the PIAA playoffs from the Class A bracket, the Lady Marauders also qualified for the state playoffs with the victory.
BG will take on Claysburg-Kimmel, a 60-47 winner over Conemaugh Valley Thursday night, in the semifinals next week.
"The first half didn't go the way we wanted it to go," Bishop Guilfoyle coach Mark Moschella said. "I give our kids a lot of credit. Despite not a lot of experience, they kept their composure at halftime, and they came out and did what they had to do in the third quarter."
Despite the Lady Marauders' history, Thursday marked the first playoff game for most of the squad. Their inexperience was evident early.
Williamsburg's Madison Detwiler opened the scoring the a layup and responded by clapping her hands together and sprinting back on defense with a big grin. Her confidence only grew from there.
The 5-foor-11 junior scored 14 first-half points and pulled in 10 rebounds for the game as Williamsburg held a lead into the second quarter.
"Madison was lights out in the first half," Williamsburg coach Jeremy Ebersole said. "I could see it in her eyes before the game. She was pumped and ready to play. She was all over the place."
Then, the second half started.
Detwiler was held without a point the rest of the game, Bishop Guilfoyle scored the first 18 points of the quarter and in a flash, Williamsburg's upset dreams were dashed.
"I told them we had to be tougher on the boards," said Moschella, whose team was outrebounded, 17-10, in the first half. "We didn't do a real good job blocking the boards in the first half. I thought in the third quarter, our defense was the key."
The Lady Marauders forced 25 turnovers, but Williamsburg actually took care of the ball better against the Marauders than it did in its first-round victory over Saltsburg when it committed 36 miscues.
"The crowd was going crazy, the girls were pumped and the halftime speech went well," Ebersole said. "I tell them all the time that the first 3 minutes of the third quarter in tight games are always crucial. We didn't score a point until the final minute of the third quarter, so that was the key to the game.
"We just couldn't buy a bucket in the third quarter."
Lili Benzel led all scorers with 22 points and took over the game late in the third quarter. Benzel scored eight points, including a 3-pointer at the buzzer, in the final four minutes.
Macy Adams added 13 points for the Lady Marauders, who improved to 18-5.
"We just have to keep making adjustments as we go on," Moschella said. "I thought we handled that extremely well tonight."
Williamsburg finished its season 12-11 and will lose starters Katie Kennedy and Rhule to graduation.
"It took awhile for us to come together, but we're going in the right direction," Ebersole said. "We hadn't won a girls playoff game since 2007. We won one the other night.
"Our goals were to win the tip-off tournament we were win, we did. Then we wanted to win our holiday tournament, we did. Our third goal was to win a playoff game, and we were successful in that. We met our goals, so I'd say it's a successful season."
WILLIAMSBURG (39): Kennedy 0 2-2 2, Rhule 1 1-2 3, M. Detwiler 6 2-4 14, Peck 5-6 15, Bookhammer 0 1-4 1, Plumley 1 1-2 3. Totals - 13 11-19 39.
BISHOP GUILFOYLE (59): McGhee 0 1-2 1, M. Adams 5 1-2 13, Dombrowski 3 0-2 6, Benzel 7 7-8 22, Taddei 2 0-0 4, Irvin 1 0-0 2, Lewis 2 2-3 6, Scipioni 1 0-0 3, Miller 1 0-0 2, E. Adams 0 0-0 0, DeLeo 0 0-0 0, Spencer 0 0-0 0, Ruggery 0 0-0 0. Totals - 22 11-17 59.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Williamsburg15 12 2 10 - 39
Bishop Guilfoyle16 16 21 6 - 59
3-point goals: Williamsburg 1 (Rhule); Bishop Guilfoyle 4 (M. Adams 2, Benzel, Scipioni).
Records: Williamsburg (12-11); Bishop Guilfoyle (18-5).
Officials: Terri Piatak, Dawn Stephens, Evan Thompson.