By: Ed Weaver | NTL Sports | March 1, 2017
The Wellsboro Varsity Girls Basketball team had their chance of playing in a second straight District IV title fall to the wayside in a 32-24 loss to Hughesville in the Class AAA semi-finals at Williamsport Area High School on Tuesday, February 28.
Both teams struggled early offensively, but the Lady Spartans managed to take a 5-0 lead before junior Rachael Tuttle made it 5-2 after grabbing an offensive rebound and putting the ball back up and in midway through the quarter. Hughesville built up an 8-4 lead, as senior Autum Kitajima scored the Lady Hornets' other two points.
Wellsboro managed to shake off their scoring problems in the second, and outscored Hughesville 6-4. Junior Lizzie Poirier, senior Janessa Davis, and freshman Cathryn Brought all scored and Wellsboro's swarming defense held the Lady Spartans to just two baskets, both by Jayden Leighow, to pull within two points, 12-10 at the half.
The third quarter was when Hughesville began to pull away. After an opening basket by Davis to tie it at 12-12, Hughesville went on a 7-2 run the rst of the quarter. Hughesville went up 17-12 after five quick points by Emily Akers, the game's leading scorer, but Tuttle cut the lead to four points as she went 1-of-2 from the foul line. A steal and layup by sophomore Emma Poirier to make it 17-15 Hughesville was the Lady Hornets' only basket the remainder of the quarter.
Wellsboro trailed 21-15 as the third quarter came to a close.
"I knew we had a good defensive plan to slow them down and I knew we could keep them in the 30's, but we have to score to to win the game," said head coach John Davis. "I thought we had some good looks. We had girls open, we just didn't see them tonight. Bottom line is our shots didn't fall and if you don't make shots you're not going to win the game."
Hughesville started the fourth with a three from Akers to push the score to 24-15, but back-to-back three-pointers from the Poirier sisters, closed the gap to 24-21. Then Wellsboro started to foul and went ice-cold from the field down the stretch.
"They got to the foul line pretty quick in the fourth and we got into foul trouble pretty quick there," continued Davis. "That hurt us and they didn't miss their shots, they're very good from the foul line and that just made it tougher for us."
Wellsboro sent Leighow, Akers, and Kendra Smith to the line, and the Lady Spartans connected on all 6 foul shots to take a 30-21 lead with under three minutes remaining. Kitajima then fouled out sending Smith back to the line, where she went 1-for-2 to make it a 10-point game.
Wellsboro managed to score 3 more points, a layup from Emma Poirier and a foul shot from senior Jessica Grab, but Budman added the game's final point for Hughesville from the foul line with over 30 seconds left to give the Lady Spartans the win.
Hughesville went 8-for-10 from the foul line in the fourth, and were 11-for-16 (69%) for the game. Wellsboro was 4-for-6 (66%) from the line for the game, but only shot two foul shots in the final minutes.
Akers led all scorers with 15 points, Leighow added 7, and Budman and Smith scored 5 each.
Emma Poirier led the Lady Hornets with 7 points, Lizzie Poirier scored 5, Davis finished with 4, Tuttle scored 4, Kitajima and Brought each scored 2, and Grab rounded out the scoring with a point. Tuttle led the Lady Hornets with 13 rebounds, giving her 322 for the year and 656 for her career. Davis finished with 3 assists and 2 steals, Lizzie Poirer added 3 steals, and Emma Poirier collected 5 rebounds.
The loss drops the Lady Hornets to 17-9 on the year, but the team will be back in action with a trip to the PIAA tournament on the line in the Class AAA consolation game against the loser of Mount Carmel and Loyalsock later tonight. The game will take place at a date, time, and location to be determined.
"We're one of only two NTL teams still playing (Sayre being the other in Class AA), and we should be proud of that," concluded Davis. "We have a tough opponent coming up next but we have a lot to play for."