WILLIAMSPORT -- There were many times when Danville coach Steve Moser could only run his hands through his hair and wonder what was going on.
His Ironmen struggled offensively for three quarters at the worst possible time of their season in Tuesday's District 4 Class AAA semifinal with top seed Athens at Williamsport High School.
Danville had managed only 13 points on 10 shots in that span and trailed the Wildcats by eight points in a low-scoring game.
However, one thing Moser still was counting on for his Ironmen was their resiliency.
"They've been a resilient bunch all year. They were frustrated with (Athens') defense. They played a sagging man-to-man and it didn't allow us to use our speed," Moser said. "If we did get by somebody, there was somebody there to help them and we got frustrated. (Athens) did a very good defensive job."
That belief along with a defensive switch to some pressure made all the difference in the world for Danville as it scored 16 points in the fourth quarter and Rachel Herman scored seven of her game-high 15 points in the final 2:30 of the game as Danville rallied to a 29-24 victory over the Wildcats.
"The second half, though, we got the ball into the foul line much more. We were able to kick it out for open looks or shoot foul shots," Moser said.
Danville improves to 17-7 on the season and qualifies for the PIAA Class AAA playoffs. They will face Shamokin, a 62-50 winner over Shikellamy in the other semifinal, for the District 4 title on Friday at a site and time to be determined. Athens finishes the season at 17-6.
The game had seemed to get away from the Ironmen in the third quarter. Kylie Romeo hit a 3-pointer with 6:47 left in the third to tie the game at 11-11, but Danville went almost six minutes without a basket, while Athens scored eight in a row to make it 19-11 with less than a minute left in the third quarter.
That's when Moser made the switch to some zone pressure and that seemed to change the complexion of the game. Herman scored a bucket with 48 seconds left in the third to end the scoring draught and spark six consecutive points that saw Danville pull to 19-17 on a Maddy Moser bucket with 6:30 left in the game.
"To keep it close defensively was the key. I think right after that (run) we started to press and when we press, even if we don't get turnovers, it really lifts our energy," Moser said. "We hustle more. We do better things. It picks everybody up and changes the tempo of the game."
"I think we all got frustrated. We knew we could have played better and we just weren't," Herman added. "We weren't getting the shots that we were used to. I definitely think pressing helped us because running is our game and it helped us get the momentum going."
Taryn Beaver and Herman then converted on back-to-back short jumpers to give Danville a 21-20 lead with 4:30 left in the game.
Athens took the lead back on a Rachael Donnelley jumper, but Herman converted a three-point play with 2:27 left in the game to give Danville the lead for good at 24-22.
Athens would cut the lead to one, but Danville went to the stall and Herman converted four foul shots in the final 38 seconds to clinch the victory.
"I was pretty nervous. I'm glad they went in," Herman said of her foul shots. "There are always nerves in that situation, but I feel more confident in that situation now than at any other time during my career."
In addition to her 15 points, Herman added eight rebounds and four assists. Moser finished with seven points.
Christin Dunkling led the Wildcats with 10 points.