SCRANTON?- In the state playoffs every step along the way provides a daunting challenge.
Those who rise above, execute at key times, and put together a key run, advance.
Dunmore, a regular player in the postseason, got a lift in the third quarter from Kayleigh Semion, and pushed past a feisty Warrior Run team, 56-42, Friday in the first round of the PIAA Class AA girls basketball tournament at the Lackawanna College Student Union.
After the hard-fought battle, the District 2 champion Lady Bucks will face York Catholic (24-4), which beat Community Academy of Philadelphia, 55-15, in a game scheduled for Tuesday at a site and time to be determined.
"Every team is good in the state playoffs," said Semion, who finished with 18 points and three steals. "This was a tough game right from the first quarter.
"We had to match their toughness in the second half and we were able to do that."
Dunmore, which looked sluggish at times as a product of a motivated defensive attack by the Lady Defenders, overcame a slow start by its lofty standards.
Locked in a grind and tied at 19-19 at the half, Dunmore stayed in the game thanks to Erika Bistran, who came off the bench and had quick reactions on misfires that resulted in five offensive rebounds.
"Second-chances are very important and rebounding is the key in a game like this," Bistran, who is only a freshman. "Coming off the bench, you have to be mentally and physically ready to play and that's just what I tried to do."
After the break, Semion, the lightning quick guard with a dead-on shot, hit for eight points that included an important 3-pointer and three point play that were part of a 12-0 run in what proved to be the decisive third quarter.
"They came out very tough in the first half and had a lot of energy, so we had to pick up our intensity and get going in the second," Semion said.
She wasn't the only one who picked up her game.
Mariah Maciejewski gave the Lady Bucks some power inside.
With Jill Korgeski, Dunmore's other force in the lane, throwing near-perfect passes on a high-low, Maciejewski converted on layups with strong moves to the basket that Warrior Run could not stop as the Lady Bucks built a 44-29 lead on the visitors from District 4 after three quarters.
"We were kind of moving slowly in the first half," said Maciejewski, who scored nine of her 15 points in the third and finished the game hitting all six of her shots. "We came out much stronger in the second half.
"We came out with a lot more energy and we knew that we had to get this thing going."
But Warrior Run made one final dash at the Lady Bucks in hopes of saving its season.
Steph Shamburg, who entered the game with more than 1,300 points in her career, kept darting to the basket which resulted in either a bucket or trips to the free-throw line, where she converted seven of eight and finished with 24 points, and the Lady Defenders closed to within 48-40 with 1:34 to play.
"By halftime, we had played a good game and it was a defensive battle," Warrior Run coach Jonathan Weaver said. "We came out in the third and our legs were a little flat. They had that big run over what three minutes in the third, but we kept chipping away and got it to within eight, but then we had to start fouling and they shot lights out from the line.
"I am proud of this team and our effort and battled against this team," Weaver said.
But Maddie Martin, a freshman with the poise of a senior, took the controls of the offense, drew fouls and drilled her free throws to send the Lady Bucks onto the second round.
"We just wanted to kill their momentum and slow things down," said Martin, who had 15 points. "I just got the ball in my hands and wanted to take care of it and knock down my free throws."
Warrior Run (42)
S. Shamburg 7-12 10-13 24, A. Fisher 4-12 1-1 11, M. Welliver 2-8 3-5 7, L. Bastian 0-3 0-0 0, C. Eisenhuth 0-1 0-0 0, M. Hays 0-0 0-0 0, M. Beyer 0-0 0-0 0, O. George 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 13-36 14-19 42.
K. Semion 6-10 3-4 18, M. Maciejewski 6-6 3-5 15, M. Martin 2-9 9-10 15, J. Korgeski 3-9 2-3 8, M. Connors 0-2 0-1 0, M. Hartshorn 0-2 0-0 0, E. Bistran 0-0 0-1 0. Totals: 17-38 17-24 56.
Warrior Run 8 11 10 13 - 42
Dunmore 5 14 25 12 - 56
3-point shooting: WR 2-14 (Fisher 2-10, Eisenhuth 0-1, Bastian 0-1, Welliver 0-2), DUN 5-16 (Semion 3-6, Martin 2-7, Connors 0-2, Hartshorn 0-1). Rebounds: WR 28 (Eisenhuth 9), DUN 27 (Korgeski 7). Assists: WR 6 (Eisenhuth 4), DUN 9 (Korgeski 3). Steals: WR 3 (Eisenhuth 3), DUN 8 (Semion 3). Blocks: DUN 4. Turnovers: WR 18, DUN 12.
Records: Dunmore 25-2. Warrior Run 21-7