By Anthony Mitchell
For The Daily Item
SELINSGROVE -- While Shikellamy kept Selinsgrove out of its rhythm, the Braves needed a bucket late.
Off of two quick passes, the ball landed in the hands of Andrea Amerman and the Braves' point guard knocked down a 3-pointer to stunt a Seals run.
With a stifling defense and a willingness to crash to the floor in pursuit of the ball, Shikellamy held off Selinsgrove, 43-36, at Selinsgrove Elementary School Friday.
"It's definitely always good to beat Selinsgrove since they're our rivals but this got us into the playoffs so that's the best part about it," Shikellamy's Bernadette Chaney said.
With their 11th win of the season, the Braves (11-7, 8-2 HAC-I) clinched a spot in the District 4 Class AAA playoffs.
"A lot of people doubted us with what we can do," Chaney said. "Now we're just excited to show them what we can do in (the) playoffs."
While the Braves scored late to beat their cross-river rivals, Shikellamy's defense was relentless, consistently collapsing on the ball as soon as the Seals (2-16, 1-10) crossed halfcourt. The constant pressure forced the Seals into turnovers with small windows to thread the ball into, allowing a Braves defense led by Chaney and Kelsey Zimmerman to take advantage.
Selinsgrove cut its deficit to five in the final minute with a chance to trim the Braves' lead to two but a missed 3-pointer was corralled by Shikellamy's Raven Fatool and Zimmerman knocked down a pair of free throws to push the Braves' lead back to seven, 43-36.
The Braves led by 10 points late in the third quarter but the Seals refused to allow the Braves to run away with a victory. With a run that spanned the end of the third quarter to the first few possessions of the fourth, the Seals strung together a 6-0 run to cut the deficit to four, 34-30.
After a miss on the last Seals' possession of the third quarter, Savanna Foor stuck with the ball as it deflected off her teammates, landing back in her hands and Foor connected from the top of the key.
Early in the first quarter with the game tied at six, Chaney set the tone for the rest of the game, forcing a tie-up as Nikki Krebs drove into the lane for Selinsgrove.
Fatool quickly knocked down a jumper after the tie-up and Kierra Smith scored four quick points to give the Braves an early 12-6 lead.
Smith scored a game-high 14 points, finding her way to the rim and crashing the boards inside.
"Kierra Smith came up big for us tonight," Braves coach Lew Delegrotti said. "She did a great job."
Smith closed an 11-2 Braves' run in the first half, staying with her own miss and getting another shot off, connecting on her second try.
Krebs led Selinsgrove with 10 points, while Laura Long and Jessica Kerstetter each scored six points inside for the Seals.