By Marion Valanoski
The Daily Item
CATASAUQUA -- Kevin Collins tried to be as diplomatic as a first-year head coach could be following a disheartening loss, and yet the Southern Columbia mentor was realistic Friday.
"We didn't play good enough to win," Collins said.
However, for the better part of three quarters his District 4 Class AA runner-up Tigers gave District 11 champion Notre Dame (Green Pond) all it could handle before untimely turnovers, cold shooting and an impressive second-half showing by the Crusaders resulted in a 58-36 state playoff loss at Catasauqua High School.
Notre Dame opened the third quarter with a five-point outburst from Shannon Moran for a 32-24 lead before Southern Columbia's Mallory Tomaschik wrapped five points around a Kayla Lavella drive that pulled the Tigers to within five.
The Crusaders switched their defense to a 2-2-1 zone press to disrupt Southern's momentum, and the tactic worked almost to perfection.
Moran, scoreless in the first half due to foul trouble, sandwiched steals around Lexi McGivern's putback basket and scored four points. Despite a Lavella 3-pointer, the Tigers' miscues continued to grow and the offense went silent as the Crusaders stormed to a double-digit lead by the end of the third, 42-30.
"The turnovers in the third quarter were killers," Collins said. "We battled to get within five points and then what seemed like just a minute later and we're down by 10 points and fighting an uphill battle."
Poor shooting in the first quarter (4-for-13) forced the Tigers into a 16-8 deficit as Gabby Altmire scored six points and 5-foot-9 forward Bridget McMullan added four.
The second period found the Tigers shaking off the cobwebs. With Lavella bombing twice from long-range and Mackenzie Clark adding a trey, Notre Dame found itself in a game and fighting to maintain composure.