By Shawn Wood
For The Daily Item
COAL TOWNSHIP —
For those hearty souls who braved Monday’s winter elements, the Heartland Athletic Conference Division I girls game between Danville and Shamokin resembled, at times, the old black-and-blue days of the Norris Division hockey games between St. Louis and Chicago.
Physicality aside, Danville withstood a third-quarter run by Shamokin for a 48-34 win.
The win qualifies Danville (11-2, 5-2 HAC-I) for districts and avenges last year’s loss in the District 4 Class AAA championship game.
It also pulls the Ironmen into a tie with Shamokin atop the HAC-I standings pending the outcome of tonight’s game between Shikellamy and Milton.
It was the first time Danville head coach Steve Moser had won at Shamokin.
“Billy (Callahan's) girls always come prepared to play and we expected the game to be physical,” Moser said. “One of our pre-game talking points was to play physical with them and not to back down.”
Amber Renz, who came into the game averaging 15.9 points per game, had a game-high 17 points while making five of seven free throws. She also had four blocks, two of which came on the same possession as the third quarter was winding down.
“Coach told us that it was going to be a physical game and we played physical with them,” Renz said.
Erica Heath added 12 points while Siobhan Bross added 11 in the winning cause.
Sami Schiccatano lead the Indians (7-6, 5-2 HAC-I) with 10 points.
Leading by seven, 25-18 at the half, Danville’s Donie Ann Keeley picked up her fourth foul just three minutes into the second half as Shamokin went on 6-0 run, keyed by a 3-point shot from the top of the key by Shaylee Pesarchick.
Turnovers also plagued Danville early in the third quarter.
“We got impatient a little bit and they made some shots,” Moser said of the Indians run. “Erica (Heath) had a key bucket and was 4 for 4 from the foul line and that’s a good confidence booster for her as she’s been struggling lately. She also had some key rebounds.”
The run for the Indians stalled when Bross made a steal near mid-court and went on to score on a lay-up off the left side of the glass.
The basket gave the Ironmen a 29-25 lead with 2:33 left in the quarter.
“Coming out of halftime, sometimes we have a tendency to slow down, but we picked it up this time,” Bross said. “This is one of the most aggressive games we’ve been in. I think we worked well as a team tonight, it was a big win.”
Shamokin out-scored Danville 11-8 in the third quarter and with time winding down, Renz had two key blocks along the baseline to protect the four-point lead for Danville heading into the fourth quarter.
“Those two blocks by Amber were real big as you don’t know if the shots were going to go in or not,” Moser added. “She has a knack for blocked shots. She had very good timing.”
Danville scored 15 points in the fourth quarter — 7 of 9 from the free throw line — while holding Shamokin to five points.
Renz pushed the lead to 10 with just under four minutes to play when she completed a 3-point play.
“We had to keep our head in the game and play like we did in the first and second quarter,” Renz said as to how the team survived the run by the Indians in the third quarter.