Lycoming women clinch playoff spot

With its back against the wall and the opportunity to make playoffs for the first time since 2000 knocking at the door, Lycoming answered in a big way.

After honoring two seniors on Senior Day, the Warriors overcame a 10-point halftime deficit with a 19-2 run to start the second half en route to a 49-39 win over Albright on Tuesday night at Lamade Gym.

The win clinched the final Commonwealth Conference spot for the Warriors.

Lycoming (8-15, 8-9 CC) managed just 13 points in the first half, but exploded in the second, as it scored the half’s first 15 points.

“This was just a huge win for us and I think what makes it even more special is that we came back from what I thought was a dismal first half,” said Lycoming coach Christen Ditzler. “We talked about it at halftime and there were nerves and we were jittery and tense. I said calm down and I think they did relax and our defense made us go and we really did a great job.”

The win came in Cinderella fashion, as the Warriors overcame a large deficit to clinch a playoff berth in the final home game for seniors Rachael Scheller and Leeann Randall.

“I couldn’t be happier,” Scheller said. “I played here for four years and we tried so hard to make playoffs every year. We played so hard – everyone did – and everyone played their hearts out and we deserved to go to playoffs.”

The Warriors shot 19 percent in the first half, but recovered nicely in the second half by shooting 12 of 25 from the field while getting easy buckets in the paint and in transition.

And those easy buckets came from a defense that held Albright (11-13, 7-10 CC) to just 30 percent shooting in the second half, which allowed the Warriors to hit the defensive glass before getting out and running in transition where Scheller often found either Janelle Ziminski or Olivia Manges. Ziminski and Manges combined for 22 points.

“We talked at halftime about penetrating and getting in there because they were giving us lanes to the hoop,” Ditzler said. “We moved the ball and got some good offensive looks.

“That’s our game, that’s what we’ve been doing well these last few games. This is one of the few teams I’ve had that can run the break well and finish. Olivia Manges and Janelle Ziminski really finished off some great passes by Rachael.”

Not only did the Warriors clinch a Commonwealth playoff spot on Tuesday, they showed they can rally and finish a game in the second half.

“This means a lot because it will show teams that we can finish,” Scheller said. “I’ll be honest, at the beginning of the season we would get up and then we would get down and we would lose. People need to watch out because we can start a game slow and come out and win the game.”

Lycoming, despite owning a 1-7 record against the four teams that are ahead of them in the standings, shouldn’t be an easy out come playoff time.

“Certainly it means we deserve to go to the playoffs. They showed everybody and proved to themselves that we deserve to be there,” Ditzler said. “Our backs were against the wall and we came out of it. I hope it carries into Saturday’s game and into playoffs.”

ALBRIGHT (11-13, 7-10 CC)

Kelecia Harris 4-5 1-2 9; Emily O’Donnell 4-6 0-0 8; Tara Sabotchick 3-8 0-0 7; Meghan Boyle 2-6 2-3 6; Jessica Venturelli 2-6 0-2 5; Kari Ludy 1-7 1-2 3; Kadijah Bishop 0-0 1-2 1; Shawn Barczynski 0-1 0-0 0; Allison Hardwick 0-1 0-0 0; Kristi McFadden 0-1 0-0 0; Amanda Tiritilli 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 16-42 5-11 39.

Lycoming (8-15, 8-9 CC)

Julia Antonelli 4-6 7-7 15; Olivia Manges 6-13 0-2 12; Janelle Ziminski 5-11 0-0 10; Rachael Scheller 1-8 6-7 9; Ali Derr 1-4 0-0 2; Kat Andriani 0-3 1-2 1; Leeann Randall 0-4 0-0 0; Shannon Wheeler 0-1 0-0 0; Shanley Harlacker 0-1 0-1 0. Totals 17-51 14-19 49.

Halftime – Albright 23-13. 3-point goals–Albright 2-7 (Sabotchick 1-1; Venturelli 1-4; McFadden 0-1; Tiritilli 0-1), Lycoming 1-16 (Scheller 1-6; Manges 0-3; Ziminski 0-2; Randall 0-3; Wheeler 0-1; Harlacker 0-1). Fouled out–None. Rebounds–Albright 32 (Boyle 6; Harris 6), Lycoming 35 (Andriani 9; Antonelli 9). Assists–Albright 9 (Ludy 3), Lycoming 10 (Scheller 5). Total fouls–Albright 18, Lycoming 15. Technical fouls–None. A-354.