Defensive stop key in Lady Comets win


First Posted: 2/22/2012

CARBONDALE- After overcoming a 10-point deficit in the third quarter and holding Scranton Prep to just eight second-half points, the Abington Heights Lady Comets needed one more stop to secure the all-season girls basketball league championship Feb. 17.

In the waning moments of the game, sophomore center Breanna Toro swatted Tricia Byrne’s last-second shot to give the Lady Comets a 30-29 victory and a division title.

“My defense was so bad the whole game and I knew I had to pick it up at that point,” Toro said. “When I did, I knew I had to do something so I jumped up and got a block.”

In the first quarter, both teams kept answering a bucket on one end of the floor with a basket on the other end. By the end of the first quarter, Scranton Prep gained a slight advantage and held an 8-6 lead.

The Lady Cavaliers built on their lead in the second quarter, nailing three 3-pointers including Jessica Genco’s buzzer-beater that gave Scranton Prep a 21-14 advantage heading into the half.

“We were sluggish in the first half,” Lady Comets’ coach Vince Bucciarelli said. “I got on some kids at halftime and some of them reacted very well to it and they played a much better second half on defense.”

Abington Heights struggled on offense early in the second half and didn’t score until Melanie Coles hit two free throws with 4:15 remaining in the third. After the free throws, Bucciarelli implemented a full-court press and the Lady Comets stormed back into the game.

“I think the pressing got our adrenaline going a little bit,” Bucciarelli said. “I think that helped us a lot to get our jolt because we were just playing flat-footed back there.”

Caitie Nealon sparked the Lady Comets’ offense with a 3-pointer to cut the Scranton Prep lead to 24-19. Abington Heights ended the quarter with an 11-2 run and cut the Lady Cavaliers’ lead to one point.

In the fourth quarter, the Lady Comets gained their first lead since the first quarter on a Toro free throw that gave Abington Heights a 27-26 lead. Emily Pritchyk answered with a basket of her own to give the Lady Cavaliers a 28-27 advantage.

With 2:30 remaining in the game, Tiffany O’Donnell snatched the lead from the Lady Cavaliers for good when she nailed a 3-pointer from the right wing. Maura Byrne hit a free throw on the other end to cut the Abington Heights’ lead to one point, but Scranton Prep couldn’t score again thanks to Toro’s game-saving block.

“Each of us worked so hard at practice yesterday just to make sure that we could win this game,” Toro said. “We needed the best defense that we could have and we really played the best we could.”

O’Donnell led the Lady Comets with 11 points while Coles and Lauren Hoyt each added five. Genco led the Lady Cavaliers with eight points.

The Lady Comets will play in the Class AAA district playoffs at a time and place to be announced.

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