REIFFTON >> It’s been a somewhat erratic campaign this winter for the Governor Mifflin Mustangs, but they’re headed back to Santander Arena.
Governor Mifflin created just enough space down the stretch to defeat Wilson, 45-37, Thursday night in a BCIAA girls quarterfinal matchup pairing of the No. 4 and 5 seeds.
It was the playoff nightcap at Exeter High School: Top-seed Twin Valley wrecked Brandywine Heights 55-14 in Thursday’s first game.
The win was Mifflin’s 16th of the season, following a third-place 6-4 campaign in Berks Section 1 behind champ Twin Valley and the Bulldogs. It ensured a trip back downtown to Reading’s Santander Arena for the Berks League semifinals on Monday night, by now familiar territory for head coach Mike Clark and assembled crew.
But it was by no means an easy get — the Mustangs (16-7) needed a second-quarter run to dig themselves out of an early hole and a third-quarter 3-point buzzer-beater from Kayla DelVecchio to finally seize the lead for good from Wilson (14-8).
Clark, a usually smiling and affable sort in pregame warmups, was all business Thursday night, as was his squad. Pregame smiles were few. A lousy night against non-league opponent Central Dauphin to close the regular season on Monday night (a 45-20 loss) had something to do with that.
“The way we played against CD the other night, scoring but three points in the fourth quarter, we had to come out all business,” Clark said. “The girls were focused at practice. I knew we were a better team than what happened in the second half against Central Dauphin.”
Wilson provided a formidable test for a league quarterfinal. Not only did the Bulldogs clip the Mustangs in the Section 1 race, but they hung a 27-point loss on Clark’s outfit back on Jan. 9 — by far Mifflin’s worst defeat of the season.
Zakiyah Winfield went for 13 points that night a month ago and was the focal point for Mifflin on Thursday. The Wilson swing still managed a game-high 17 points, but was at times her club’s only threat on the floor. Olivia Moyer scored a team-high 16 for the Bulldogs in that Jan. 9 game, but was held to two points at Exeter a month later.
A 13-3 spurt to start the second quarter, turning a 12-7 deficit into a 20-15 lead, proved vital to Mifflin establishing solid footing.
Leading 22-20 at the break, the see-saw stayed rocking until the end of the third quarter, when forward DelVecchio — not known as a long-range bomber — launched a 25-foot prayer at the buzzer that kissed glass and swished the net to give Mifflin a 34-31 advantage and the lead for good.
“When we fell behind 12-7, I said, ‘Girls, this is our game. They’re giving us shots. We’ve just got to keep pitching in and control (Winfield),’” Clark said. “Just stay calm. … One game, 32 minutes to Santander Arena. Not too many kids get to play there.”
Ta’shonna Wright was the sparkplug during that second-quarter run. Wright finished with a team-high 14 points, including a big triple to open the final stanza and give the Mustangs their largest lead to that point, at 37-31.
Wright was the only Mustang to find double-digits in the scorebook. DelVecchio had seven points, all late; Kyra Hartman finished with nine. Kaya Burkhart added 11 points for Wilson.
BCIAA girls’ quarterfinal
at Exeter HS
Governor Mifflin 45, Wilson 37
Wilson – 12 7 11 6 — 37
Governor Mifflin – 7 15 12 11 — 45
Winfield 6 4-6 17, Burkhart 5 0-0 11, Fry 2 0-0 5, Doyle 1 0-0 2, Moyer 1 0-0 2, Depro 0 0-0 0, White 0 0-0 0. Totals: 15 4-6 37.
3-pointers: 3 (Winfield, Fry, Burkhart)
Wright 7 1-2 14, Mollica 2 2-2 7, Shepard 1 0-0 3, Hartman 2 5-5 9, Latshaw 1 0-0 3, DelVecchio 3 0-0 7, Werner 0 0-0 0,. Totals: 16 8-9 45.
3-pointers: 5 (Wright, Mollica, Shepard, Latshaw, DelVecchio)
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