SUNBURY - Kelsey Zimmerman picked herself off the floor and was immediately run into, twice, and harder than the foul that knocked her down.
You could say the Shikellamy junior’s teammates were enthusiastic about her 3-pointer and subsequent free throw that gave the Braves a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter of Thursday’s district playoff game.
“It was really nice having my teammates there for me,” Zimmerman said with a smile.
Zimmerman scored all 11 of her points in the second half, leading Shikellamy’s balanced scoring effort in a 47-39 win over Shamokin in the District 4 Class AAA quarterfinals at Lockcuff Gymnasium.
Andrea Amerman matched her fellow junior guard with 11 points (one off her career-high), including a trio of 3-pointers, and senior Raven Fatool scored a season-best 10. Junior Bernadette Chaney added eight points on her birthday, and senior Alexa Moore added seven with a pair of 3-pointers.
“Most teams know we have guards that can shoot and knock down threes,” said Fatool, “so Coach (Lew Dellegrotti) is always emphasizing for the other players to go to the rim and take it to the basket.
“That’s what we did (Thursday), and we all scored collectively.”
That balance was a stark contrast to the fifth-seeded Indians, who lost senior scoring leader Liv Bonshock to a knee injury and struggled to score in the second half without her.
Shamokin (13-10) endured Bonshock leaving the game two minutes in, returning with a wrapped left knee and then leaving for good with 4:47 left in the half. The Indians cut a seven-point deficit to one at halftime, but couldn’t keep pace in the second half.
“I don’t know if I’m disappointed; I’m more concerned about Liv,” said Shamokin coach Bill Callahan. “The injury right now overrides the loss.”
Shikellamy (15-8) earned a semifinal shot at top-seeded Danville with high stakes: a spot in the district final and a state playoff berth. The Braves split with the Ironmen (20-3) in the regular season. Their semifinal will be Tuesday at a neutral site.
Shikellamy also split with Shamokin this season, each winning on its home court. The Indians were riding a five-game win streak that began after a Jan. 24 loss in Sunbury.
“What we had on the board in the pre-game was ’everybody has to participate,’” said Dellegrotti. “We put a different offense in and it kinda worked; we were getting wide-open 3-pointers.”
Moore drilled a pair of threes, and Amerman hit another as Shik bolted to a 13-6 lead in the first quarter. Amerman popped another in the second for an 18-13 lead, but the Braves were scoreless over the final 3:30 and the Indians got within 18-17.
Shamokin’s Gabi Lahr helped pick of the slack for Bonshock’s missing 13.4 ppg. with six first-half points to go with five rebounds and five blocks. The dynamic sophomore finished with game-highs of 14 points, 13 boards and six blocks. But only she and junior Shaylee Pesarchick (eight points) had more than three points in the second half.
“Didn’t have that leader,” said Callahan. “(But) if we hit our free throws and play like we’re supposed to play, I think we win the game.
“To lose by eight points without Liv the whole game — at their place — is saying a lot.”
The Indians made just 14 of 27 fouls overall, five of 12 after halftime.
Zimmerman missed two days of practice and had a blood transfusion Wednesday to correct a low blood count. A bit weakened and pale, she had the strength to bury two second-half treys, including the four-point play that put Shik ahead 41-31 with 4:56 left. She made all five of her fouls in the fourth to finish a point off her 12.3 average.
“Everybody just did their part,” she said. “I wasn’t feeling my best, and everybody just contributed to help make up for what I couldn’t do.”