BERWICK When Williamsport's Amy Southard hit her fourth 3-pointer of the second half to give the Millionaires a two-point lead over a four-win Scranton team on Wednesday night, it appeared her nightmare was about to end. The Williamsport guard gave her team its first advantage since back in the first quarter with her torrid shooting, but the Millionaires couldn't put a stranglehold on the lead and Southard watched a pair of Scranton freshmen end the careers of the Williamsport seniors.
Cierra Lloyd scored 16 points and Tahliah Dillon made a back-breaking 3-pointer in the late stages of the game to allow the fifth-seeded Knights to surprise No. 4 Williamsport, 52-47, in the quarterfinal round of the District 2-4 Class AAAA girls basketball playoffs.
"Amy caught fire there and we thought it was going to be enough and I thought it was going to be enough, but unfortunately we came up a little short there," Williamsport coach Derek Slaughter said.
Based on seeds Scranton's victory may not have been a big surprise, but the young Knights entered their playoff opener 4-18.
The learning curve for coach Maureen Kenny's Knights hasn't always been pleasant to watch this season from the bench, but all those teaching lessons paid huge dividends last night. Kenny watched her team lose an 11-point lead in the second half, but have enough poise to avoid disaster in the fourth quarter after Williamsport rallied behind Southard, who scored 14 of her game-high 17 points in the second half.
Five consecutive Southard points to end the third quarter pulled Williamsport to within, 34-30, and her second 3-point field goal in the fourth quarter gave the Millionaires their first lead since 7-6 in the first quarter.
Scranton never wilted, though, and answered with an 8-1 run after Southard's 3-pointer gave the Millionaires a 39-37 lead. First Kayla Wademan tied the game with a baseline jumper and Dillon didn't shy away from a 3-point shot, burying the attempt for a 42-40 lead. Lloyd, who was a pest all night for the Williamsport defense with her penetration that led to layups for her or her teammates, made it a five-point game after gutting the Williamsport defense again and making the ensuing free throw with 2:57 remaining.
"It's not easy to be up 11 and then all of sudden being down with all the momentum going the other direction, but then we have Kayla Wademan come in and hit a huge shot and then to have the will to keep fighting," Kenny said. "It all comes down to having the heart and wanting to win that game."
The Millionaires (10-11) tried to extend the game down the stretch, but Scranton made enough free throws to ice the game and advance to the district semifinals against top-seeded Wallenpaupack, the defending district champion and a team that defeated Scranton in the Knights' regular-season finale.
"We made that run and put the heat on, but they didn't fold or crumble and they countered right back," Slaughter said. "I give my girls a lot of credit for not throwing in the towel and coming back, but you have to give them credit for coming back and taking the lead and getting out of here with the win."
Lloyd scored nine of her 16 points in the second half and she had back-to-back assists to Hart in the third quarter that allowed Scranton to keep a double-digit lead before Southard caught fire.
"We tried to put some pressure on her by switching up defenses but give her credit she kept attacking every defense we threw at her and she kept her composure," Slaughter said. "All the credit goes to her. She came out with that attack mentality and she just put it to us tonight. She came out tonight and controlled the game from the jump ball to the final horn."
Williamsport did score the game's first four points, but the Knights scored 11 of the final 14 points of the first quarter and led 11-7 after eight minutes, despite starting center Katie Hart picking up two early fouls and having to sit out 12 minutes in the first half.
Williamsport's deficit grew to nine points by halftime as the Millionaires struggled mightily offensively. Scranton held Williamsport to four field goals and 15 first-half points.
The Millionaires did a good job of taking advantage of the absence of Hart in the paint, dumping the ball inside to Jaynelle Robinson and Jahnae Hall-Gaddy but while the two combined for 18 points, it could have been more. Williamsport's post dominance led to a pair of Scranton players fouling out, including Hart, but those fouls didn't result in enough points. The Millionaires shot just 12 of 26 from the foul line and never made both attempts, going 1 of 2 on 12 of their trips to the foul line and 0 for 2 on the another.
Sam Bloom 2 3-4 9, Cierra Lloyd 6 4-6 16, McKenzie McAndrew 2 0-0 5, Tahliah Dillon 2 1-4 6, Jessica Bobersky 0 0-0 0,, Victoria Yatko 0 0-0 0, Georgia Miller 1 0-0 2, Kayla Wademan 3 0-0 6, Katie Hart 3 2-4 8. Totals: 19 10-18 52.
Myeesha Peterson 0 0-0 0, Tauntyonah Guinter 1 1-2 3, Jaid Harsch 0 0-0 0, Amy Southard 6 0-0 17, Chloe Jennings 2 0-0 6, Lydia Whaley 1 1-2 3, Olivia Erb 0 0-0 0, Jaynelle Robinson 3 7-16 13, Jahnae Hall-Gaddy 1 3-6 5. Totals: 14 12-26 47.
Scranton11 13 10 18 52
Williamsport 7 8 15 17 47
3-point goals: Scranton 4 (Bloom 2, McAndrew, Dillon); Williamsport 7 (Southard 5, Jennings 2).
Records: Scranton 5-18, Williamsport 10-11. Next: Scranton vs. Wallenpaupack, Fri.