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The Boyertown High School Lady Bears basketball team was looking to forget their two game district losing streak with a playback game for seventh place and a berth in the PiAA state tournament against the Pennsbury High School Lady Falcons.
In a game that saw Boyertown down seven at halftime, the Lady Bears came back thanks to a double-double (22 points/14 rebounds) by senior Kaitlyn Eisenhard.
However, it was the freshman duo of Maria Valenti and Maria Garafolo that came up huge late for the Lady Bears as they came from behind for a 53-49 victory.
With the win, the Bears will face Central Dauphin (who lost the District 3-AAAA final to Wilson, 57-46) Friday night in the state tournament at a site to be determined.
“We didn’t play well for three and a half quarters, but we pulled it out at the end,” said Boyertown head coach Jason Bieber. “Eisenhard had a nice game and we had her at 22 points and 14 rebounds. Oliva stepped up and hit some foul shots. What made the difference in the game was Marie and Maria (Valenti and Garofolo) coming off the bench. Garofolo had eight points and gave us a big spark.”
“I saw that we were not very pumped up and I was trying to get them in a better mode,” said Garofolo.
“The last couple of games I haven’t been on my offensive game,” said Eisenhard on her double-double. “I tried to pick it up tonight even though I had pressure on me to box out their big girl and go for rebounds. It was a way to get back into my game.”
Kaitlyn Kelly hit back-to-back three point shots for the Lady Falcons for the early lead and a 8-2 run to start the game for Pennsbury.
Eisenhard scored Boyertown’s first field goal with almost three minutes to go in the first quarter. Senior Oliva Cavallo scored shortly after on a baby hook shot to cut the lead to 10-6. Eisenhard hit two free throws to cut the lead to two with 1:35 left. Marie Valenti hit a field goal to end the first quarter and tied the game at 10-10.
The second quarter saw the Lady Falcons open up a sizable lead. Boyertown had several chances at the end of the second quarter to cut the lead to five, but trailed 27-21 at intermission.
Bieber saw that there was a lack of energy in the gym and from his players, so he tried to get the team motivated. He felt that they had to play full court pressure defense along with special defense.
“I thought we did a better job in the second half with our pressure defense and our special defense,” said Bieber.
“For the seniors it was our last game at home,” said Eisenhard. “We wanted to show the crowd out there and everyone else that we can make a run at states. We felt that if we picked up our defense, our offense would come from our defense.”
The third quarter saw Kelly score the first basket with 6:30 left. Cavallo hit two free throws as she was fouled going to the basket. After a minute and a half scoring drought, Bether scored. Eisenhard hit a free throw to cut the lead to 32-26.
Maria Valenti hit a basket and the lead was cut to three points. Fergenson drained a three-point shot to put Pennsbury up six, however Dee Terry scored on a layup and was fouled.
The lead was down to three points 36-33 with 53 seconds left in the third quarter. Bether hits a shot to put Pennsbury up five 38-33 at the end of the third quarter.
Down by seven, Boyertown used pressured defense to force turnovers that turned into Lady Bears points and got them back into the game. Eisenhard hit one of two foul shots to tie the game.
After the Falcons retook the lead, Garofolo hit a reverse lay-up to tie the game and Pennsburry takes a time out with 2:02 left in the game.
“I really didn’t know if I was going to do it (the reverse layup),” said Garofolo. “I was kind of behind the basket and I just decided to go up. It got everyone really pumped up and we all realized that we could win.”
Garofolo got a steal, then Eisenhard hit a shot to tie the game again. She then hit one of two foul shots to put the Bears up, 47-46 with 1:45 left in the game.
Kaitlyn Dehaven forced another steal for the Lady Bears and missed the layup. However Eisenhard got the rebound and scored to put Boyertown up 49-46.
Pennsburg cut the lead to 51-49. but after a time out, Cavallo sealed the deal with two clutch foul shots to secure the win for the Lady Bears.
“I think the thing that got the momentum going was that reverse lay-up. That gave us a big spark and a lot of energy.”
“Maria did well on the offensive end I was very proud of her for stepping up,” said Eisenhard. “Maria and I did our traps on the girls they had a hard time throwing over us.”
While freshman Allison Bauman may not have played as much as Maria and Marie, but Bieber saw her do some nice things on the court to help her teammates.
Boyertown will face District 3-AAAA runner up Central Dauphin, a team that they have faced in the past several years. Central Dauphin has some size and are very quick. They average 60 points a game and the team likes to run, which is a concern for the Boyertown coaches.
“We’ve always been very competitive with them,” said Bieber. “If it gets into a running game, we’ll be run out of the gym. We need to control the tempo and get them into a basketball game and we’ll be fine.”
30 second time out: Before the game, Senior Kaitlyn Eisenhard was recongized for being the all-time scoring leader leader at Boyertown. A basketball with her final numbers will be placed in the showcase when the season is over.