By Jon Gerardi
The Daily Item
A quick steal and a layup by Girard College prompted the Tigers fans inside Reading High’s Geigle Complex to cheer even louder.
All the while, Lourdes Regional coach Mike Klembara simply sat on his chair at the end of the bench, legs crossed, watching Wednesday’s action.
You could see frustration starting to show on the faces of some Lourdes girls on the court, but not on Klembara’s face. A 15-point third-quarter lead had been cut to seven, and the momentum appeared to be shifting.
All Klembara had to do was tell his team to calm down a bit and relax.
“(I told them), ‘Just keep our poise.’ Our school strives on being intelligent — and their kids are bright too, let’s face it — but our kids have played together as a unit since CYO (Catholic Youth Organization basketball) and they’re very unselfish. They just played well as a team,” Klembara said.
Not long after Girard College’s steal and score, Rachel Schultz hit a nice jumper to put the Red Raiders up 11 with 20 seconds remaining in the third and they never looked back. Lourdes cruised the rest of the way to a 57-42 win over Girard College in the second round of the PIAA Class A tournament.
Lourdes advances to face District 5 runner-up Southern Fulton, a 73-34 winner over Halifax, on Saturday at a time and place to be determined.
The Red Raiders used their speed to build a double-digit lead by early in the second quarter, their quick passing moving Girard College’s defenders around and creating open shots.
“We felt because of their zone — because they kind of over-shift an awful lot — if we skip over the midline of the zone we were going to get some open three shots,” Klembara said. “Sarah (Getchey) did exactly what we wanted to do. Bailey (Trell) had some shots at it and didn’t make it, and maybe Nikki (Komara) had some 3-point shots. But I thought the fact that we were able to hit 3s opened the middle for us.”
Getchey sank all three of Lourdes’ 3-pointers, all within a 6-minute span in the first half, as she was routinely open outside the arc.
In the second half, Lourdes got away from the 3-pointer, driving more inside the paint to make layups or working the baseline to capitalize on quickness in getting open and getting the Lady Tigers defense out of position.
“That’s our key: We’re going to play defense, we’re going to move the ball and try to get open shots, and be very disciplined. That’s what we’re all about,” Klembara said. “Rachel (Schultz) hit some big shots and Sarah (Getchey) hit some treys early in the ballgame. They made a run at us and we kept our poise.”
Schultz was huge for Lourdes, scoring a team-high 19 points, grabbing eight boards and swiping four steals.
G’mrice Davis (25 points, 13 rebounds, 4 steals) opened the game for Girard College with a putback to give the Lady Tigers a 2-0 lead. Caitlin Funk (eight points) scored a minute later to tie it and the Red Raiders never trailed again.
“We knew that No. 5 (Davis) and No. 12 (Jodi Marshall) were their key players that we had to stop. (Davis is) very athletic,” Klembara said.
Davis and Marshall combined for 35 of Girard College’s 42 points. The duo also accounted for all 16 third-quarter points as the Tigers cut their deficit.
Turnovers hurt the Tigers in the end. Girard College turned it over 32 times (18 in the first half) while Lourdes recorded nine steals.
Lourdes led by just nine heading into the fourth quarter, 39-30, until Komara (10 points, 10 boards, 4 assists, 3 steals) scored on a layup just 20 seconds in to put Loudes up by double figures once again. The Red Raiders maintained a double-digit lead the entire fourth quarter, leading by as many as 18.
“There’s only four teams that are going to be left after (Wednesday) in the East and we’re one of them. Who’d of thunk that in the beginning of the year?” Klembara said. “It’s a great accomplishment for our kids. I told them a few weeks ago, ‘Don’t let anybody tell you what you can’t do in life or on the basketball floor.’”