By Marion Valanoski
The Daily Item
COAL TOWNSHIP -- Tuesday night, in the rubber match between Heartland I rivals Danville and Shikellamy in the District 4 Class AAA semifinals, the Ironmen were able to clamp down just enough on the Braves' senior tandem of Alexis Angstadt and Cory Yerger.
Freshman Amber Renz had a double-double and the Ironmen reached the district title game with a strong second half, pulling away for a 47-35 win at Shamokin.
A cold start from the field coupled with Danville's ability to turn up its perimeter game in the second combined to spell doom for Shikellamy.
Danville senior guard Donie Ann Keeley provided the offensive push for the Ironmen as she scorched the nets for eight straight points to open the second half. That extended Danville's lead to nine points (24-15), before the Angstadt responded with a four-point flourish that kept the third seed within striking distance on the scoreboard.
"We hurt ourselves in the first quarter by not being able to make a few shots in the paint," Shikellamy head coach Lew Dellegrotti said. "If we could have put some pressure on their defense who knows what may have happened."
Danville went into the game playing a triangle-and-two hoping to curtail Shikellamy's top two scorers, Angstadt and Yerger. For the most part the tactic worked because the two standouts were "held" to 22 combined points while the rest of the squad could muster only 12.
"We knew after playing them last time they would make changes against our defense, so we switched up and decided to try and slow down their top two players," Ironmen head coach Steve Moser said. "I thought we did a great job of limiting what they could do, but we knew it would be hard to stop Angstadt, so we were hoping to put the pressure on their other players."
The Danville offense also caught fire after the break and outscored the Braves, 31-23, as the perimeter game and the performance of Renz at both ends of the court was too much for the Shikellamy to handle.
Leading by seven points heading into the final quarter, Liz Pavis sandwiched two field goals around free throws from Renz and Keeley to push the advantage to 37-24. The Braves' offense went cold from the floor and did not register a point until Kelsey Zimmerman's 3-pointer with three minutes left to play, but any chance of a comeback was dashed by a 12-0 run to open the quarter that all but sealed Shikellamy's fate.
The Ironmen got balanced scoring in the final eight minutes as Renz, Pavis and Siobhan Bross all tallied five points to offset Angstadt's heroics, who collected eight points in the final two minutes to move into second place on the Shikellamy girls all-time scoring list behind Amanda Fleming.
Keeley led the Ironmen, who take on the winner of tonight's Shamokin Area-Athens game in the final later this week, with 13 points and Renz, who is just a freshman contributed 12 points and 14 rebounds.
Shikellamy's lone player in double figures was Angstadt with 18. She also grabbed 12 rebounds.