By Marion Valanoski
For The Daily Item
MONTOURSVILLE - Pete Long went through a near white-knuckle experience while Mike Klembara barely broke a sweat Thursday night but the end result still brought forth a smile for the two veteran coaches in the opening round of District 4 Class A basketball playoffs at Montoursville High School.
The Red Raiders' boys used clutch foul shooting down the stretch by Matt Menapace and Zack Oquendo's offensive rebounding to lead Lourdes past Sayre, 49-41, while on the girls' side, rode the torrid three-point shooting of Sarah Getchey and solid defense en route to rolling past Galeton, 57-15.
Oquendo opened the fourth quarter with four straight points to increase the lead to 40-30, and all indications pointed to the Red Raiders (18-5) coasting home to a convincing triumph over the Redskins (13-10). Unfortunately, Sayre had other thoughts and almost came within a whisker of upsetting the number three seed.
Taking advantage of early poor foul shooting in the period by Lourdes, the visitors began to get the ball to their top shooter Nate Williams, who had returned to the lineup after missing seven games with an ankle sprain, and the sharpshooter caught fire in the quarter with six points, including a put back miss that brought Sayre to within a basket of tying the score, 42-40, and had the home team on its heels.
"We missed several front ends of one-and-ones that could have given us some breathing room but the ball just wouldn't fall," Long said. "They got a few long rebounds and suddenly were back in the game, but give credit to our players, they didn't panic but instead came up with some big plays on both ends when we needed them."
More than big plays the Red Raiders with under three minutes to play began to make their foul shots.
Matt Savitski, who buried two huge three-pointers in the win, worked inside for an offensive rebound and was fouled, calmly sinking both attempts for a 44-40 advantage while Anthony Pennypacker, who hauled in eight rebounds, made one of two from the charity stripe to up the lead to 45-40, before Williams tallied the final Redskins' point on a foul shot, 45-41. Oquendo, who was a force on the boards the entire contest with 13 caroms, scored on a drive to increase the tally while Menapace iced the win with two foul shots.
"We survived, that's all I can say," Long said. "Our players dug deep when it counted most and came up with several big plays but we also made the mistake of allowing Sayre to hang around too long and we earned a hard-fought win against a scrappy squad.
"Going into the last quarter we were 1-7 from the foul line but in the last two minutes we were 7-13 and that secured the win."
The Red Raiders exhibited their transition game to perfection in the opening stanza and with Oquendo scoring six and Savitski canning a trey the Redskins found themselves down on the scoreboard, 14-5, after eight minutes. Sayre began to assert itself in the next period and with Williams opening with a basket and the offense taking advantage of some inside baskets trimmed a 20-8 deficit under double digits twice before Justin Howal added four points for the Red Raiders and Savitski buried another three-pointer to help the home team go into the break on top, 25-14.
Oquendo led the winners with 18 points while Pennypacker chipped in with 12.
"We need to improve with our half-court game," Long said. "We did a lot of scoring in transition and with our offensive rebounding but we didn't attack their zone as well as we should have and that must improve."
If at first you don't succeed, keep trying, but in the case of Sarah Getchey it was only a matter of getting into one of her patented hot streaks from the perimeter, which was the case for the four-time defending District 4 champs. The senior sharpshooter missed her first couple of attempts from long distance but then promptly connected on four of her next five in the second period that all but sewed up their victory for the winners (18-5), who will square off against the survivor of the Benton/East Juniata game tonight.
Lourdes, which had been idle for two weeks since the end of the regular season in the Schuylkill League, looked anything but rusty against the outmanned Tigers (14-11) as the third-seeded Red Raiders ran and pressed their way out to a 16-0 lead after eight minutes of play with Nikki Komara and Rachel Schultz both scoring six points.
"Playing in the Schuylkill League certainly prepares us for the competition in the District 4 playoffs but we went into the game still knowing we had to execute our offense and play solid defense, Klembara said. "As far as Sarah Getchey you have to expect that from a shooter who puts it up from long distance they are streaky but once they find that groove then anything can happen."
Getchey was the offensive catalyst in the team's 26-6 second quarter with 12 points while sophomore Bailey Trell displayed her outside shooting eye with a pair of treys and Schulktz contributed six to all but put the contest in the books.
"Coach just told me to keep on shooting if I had my shot," Getchey said. "I wasn't worried when I missed the first few and felt great in the second quarter. Our team went out and played hard despite the score because we needed to get back in the groove after being off for two weeks."
Klembara mixed-and-matched his lineup in the third quarter and yet the Tigers could not find the answer to stopping the Red Raiders, who were led by Schultz in the quarter with 10 points allowing the veteran mentor to clear his bench in the final eight minutes and allowthe entire roster to experience playing in the postseason.
"We may have had a big lead right from the start but you still must let your starters get back into their basketball-playing mode and just can't take them out too quickly," Klembara said. "Nikki Komara was her usual outstanding self running the offense and a spearhead on defense and Rachel Schultz came up big offensively as did the whole team."
Schultz paced the winners with 22 points and Getchey contributed 17 followed by Trell with eight.