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Early deficit too much for BC girls

WINGATE — All season long, the Bishop Carroll Catholic High School girls basketball team has played its games with a trademark type of heart, fight and never-say-die spirit.

The Lady Huskies followed that blueprint again Wednesday night in a PIAA Class 1A second-round playoff game against Lourdes Regional at Bald Eagle Area High School, but a slow start doomed Carroll.

Lourdes Regional, the District 4 champion, broke out to a 13-2 lead after one quarter, opened it up to 19-4 early in the second quarter, and held off Carroll down the stretch, 49-44.

“Early on, we were down, but the kids never gave up,” said Carroll coach Bob Gongloff, whose team finished the season with a record of 18-8. “The kids gave me everything they had. We chipped away, and got their lead down to five points. We just needed another two or three minutes.”

Senior guard Sierra Coleman got Lourdes Regional off and running with a pair of 3-pointers from the left corner, sandwiched around a jumper from the top of the key by sophomore center Emma Shimko, as Lourdes enjoyed an early 8-0 lead.

After senior forward Dani Gittings got Carroll on the board with an inside bucket, senior center Frances Czeponis scored on a turnaround shot from the key and senior guard Lilyauna Bickel hit another 3-pointer from the left side to give Lourdes the 13-2 lead at the first-quarter pole.

Bickel scored a game-high 15 points, Coleman added 12, and Czeponis chipped in 11 for Lourdes (21-6), which will advance to the PIAA Class 1A quarterfinals Saturday against District 11 runner-up Weatherly at a site and time to be determined.

“We got off to a really good start, and it was crucial that we kept that mentality,” Coleman said. “(Winning) feels amazing. There is never a dull moment when you win.”

Lourdes coach Michael Kiembara, who is in his 40th season and has over 700 coaching victories to his credit, thought that it was essential that his team start quickly against Carroll.

“It was obviously very big,” Kiembara said of his team’s fast start. “Every time we saw Carroll, they jumped out on top of (opponents) like crazy. It was obviously important for us (to start quickly) to gain our confidence.

“We’ve got great kids who worked their tails off,” Kiembara said.

Carroll made just one of eight shots in the first quarter and turned the ball over nine times against Lourdes’ pesky pressure defense.

Lourdes led, 19-4 on Czeponis’ jumper from the left side early in the second quarter, and took a 27-14 advantage into intermission.

Carroll kept clawing back, however. After a free throw by Shimko staked Lourdes to a 30-16 lead midway through the third quarter, Carroll staged a seven-point run comprised of a 3-pointer by senior forward Anna Haigh, two free throws from senior guard Sam Rosenberger, and a steal and layup by Haigh, to cut the Lourdes advantage to 30-23.

Lourdes responded with the next six points, though, on a jumper by Bickel, a turn-around 1-hander off the glass by Czeponis, and an inside field goal by Shimko, to boost its lead back up to 13 points, 36-23.

Lourdes led, 38-27 after three quarters, before Carroll made another run in the fourth quarter. Haigh, who led Carroll with 14 points, buried a 3-point shot from the left side after taking an inbounds pass from senior forward Dani Gittings, to move the Lady Huskies back to within five points, 40-35, with 2:38 left.

Two free throws by Bickel gave Lourdes a 42-35 edge with 2:12 left, and Czeponis followed by making one of two foul shots to give Lourdes a 43-35 lead with 1:36 left.

After Shimko added one of two free throws with 1:26 remaining to put Lourdes ahead, 44-35, Haigh’s field goal made it 44-37.

Sophomore guard Katie Sandri converted two free throws with 62 seconds left to put Lourdes ahead, 46-37, before a runner by Carroll freshman Savannah Smorto drew the Lady Huskies to within 46-39.

In the final minute, Czeponis hit two of four free throws and Coleman added another for Lourdes, while Gittings hit a field goal and Rosenberger converted a 3-pointer right before the buzzer for Carroll.

“We had a couple possessions where we couldn’t sink a shot,” Gongloff said. “Had we made those shots, it might have been a different ballgame.”

Along with Haigh’s 14 points, senior point guard Kate Yahner scored 13 and Gittings had 10 for Carroll.

“I really love this team,” Haigh said, fighting her emotions after the game. “It’s really tough to lose. We had goals to win the state championship. We played hard, and we gave it our all. It’s a really hard feeling to come up short.”

Gongloff, who wrapped up his 19th season at Carroll Wednesday, hasn’t decided whether he’ll be back on the bench next winter.

“I’ve got to re-evaluate and see what’s going on,” Gongloff said.

BISHOP CARROLL (44): K. Yahner 5 2-5 13, Rosenberger 1 2-2 5, M. Yahner 0 0-0 0, Gittings 5 0-1 10, Haigh 6 0-0 14, Popma 0 0-0 0, Smorto 1 0-0 2, McMullen 0 0-0 0. Totals — 18 4-8 44.

LOURDES REGIONAL (49): Sandri 0 2-2 2, Coleman 3 3-5 12, Bickel 5 3-5 15, Shimko 2 5-8 9, F. Czeponis 4 3-6 11, M. Czeponis 0 0-0 0. Totals — 14 16-26 49.

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Bishop Carroll 2 12 13 17 — 44

Lourdes Regional 13 14 11 11 — 49

3-point goals: Bishop Carroll 4 (Haigh 2, K. Yahner, Rosenberger); Lourdes Regional 5 (Coleman 3, Bickel 2).

Records: Bishop Carroll (18-8); Lourdes Regional (21-6).

Officials: Craig West, Erick Cummings, Krista Andrews.

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