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ST. MARYS â€“ The Elk County Catholic Lady Crusaders jumped out to an early lead against the Port Allegany Lady Gators on Thursday evening in a District 9 quarter final game at ECCHS, and continued to pull away to take a 50-24 victory.
Elk Catholic coach Ken Pistner credited the team's good start with being very important to their overall success on the evening.
"I think it's very important," Pistner said. "Port had a really big win at Cameron County. They were coming in with a lot of momentum. I was at that game. They played well. It was important for us to get out early and play good defense and make it difficult for them to score, and I think we did that."
ECC led 18-3 after the first quarter, 28-10 at the half, and 36-20 after three quarters. All of the Lady Gators' first half points came from foul shots.
"We held them without a field goal in the first half. We've been playing solid defense all year long. For us to be successful, we need to continue to do that," Pistner said.
The Lady Crusaders were led by Kristy Hanes and Lexie Meholic, both of whom had 14 points on the night. Hanes had four twos and two threes, while Meholic had four twos, a three, and a 3-for-3 night from the foul line. Abbi Petrosky added 11 points for ECC on four twos and a 3-for-4 night from the line.
The Lady Gators were led by freshman Somer Buchsenschutz with 10 points on two twos and a 6-for-6 night from the line. Sophomore Becca Lathrop added 9 points on three twos and a 3-for-4 night from the line.
"Port played hard and they should be congratulated on a good season. They're a young team," Pistner said.
Thursday night's victory sends the Lady Crusaders into a semi final match-up with the Clarion Lady Bobcats next Tuesday, a contest that Pistner noted will be challenging.
"Clarion is a good basketball team. We played them last year in the consolation game for the District and they have mostly everybody back from that team. They were solid. They're big. They're strong. They have a couple of guards that are pretty decent. So that will be a really good challenge for us," Pistner said.
ECC opened strong on Thursday evening, running up 13 points to start the game, with Hanes scoring seven, Petrosky and Taylor DaCanal each making a field goal, and Meholic adding a pair of foul shots. The Lady Gators made the score 13-1 with a foul shot by McKenna Johnson. Elk Catholic added five more points to their total with a bucket by Hanes and a three by Meholic, and Buchsenschutz ended the quarter with a pair of foul shots for Port to make the score 18-3 in favor of ECC.
A bucket by Petrosky to start the second quarter gave the Lady Crusaders a 20-3 lead, their biggest of the first half. Buchsenschutz closed the gap slightly with two more foul shots. Petrosky made a foul shot of her own for ECC and Hanes added another bucket. Lathrop sank a pair of foul shots for Port, Hanes hit a three for ECC, and Lathrop went back to the line, making another foul shot to cut Elk's advantage to 26-8 with just over 20 seconds remaining in the half. Jena Struble made a field goal for ECC, and Buchsenschutz scored the final points of the half with two foul shots for Port, sending the game into halftime with the Lady Crusaders up 28-10.
The third quarter was the only one were Port outscored ECC. The Lady Crusaders started out the second half with a pair of buckets by Meholic and Petrosky. Port then scored their first field goal of the game on a shot by Johnson to make the score 32-12. Lathrop also added a bucket for the Lady Gators. Petrosky made a pair of foul shots and a bucket for Elk Catholic, giving the Lady Crusaders a 36-14 advantage with just over a minute remaining in the third period. Port ended the quarter with a six-point run on a pair of buckets by Lathrop and another field goal by Buchsenschutz to cut the Lady Crusaders' lead to 36-20 with one quarter remaining.
Elk went on a nine-point run to start the fourth quarter on three field goals and a foul shot by Meholic and a bucket by DaCanal. Jordan Edgell made a field goal for Port, Julia Sweeney sank a foul shot for ECC, and Krista Miller came up empty on a trip to the line for the Lady Gators. With just under two minutes remaining, Morgan Onink scored back-to-back buckets for ECC, and Buchsenschutz added the final points of the game with a field goal for Port with under a minute remaining, making Elk Catholic's margin of victory 50-24.
The Lady Crusaders are now 20-3 on the year and will face Clarion on Tuesday, Feb. 28 in the 9-A semifinals at a site and time to be announced.
In other Class A action last night, Clarion defeated Smethport 74-30, while Kane beat Coudersport 45-41, and Keystone won 52-36 over East Forest.
In the other semifinal match-up on Tuesday Keystone will take on Kane at a site and time to be announced.