BETHLEHEM >> Holy Redeemer came on strong in the fourth quarter Tuesday night, cutting St. Basil’s lead down to just three.
But for the Panthers, this proved to be a turning point, not a breaking point.
“I think it was a lot of just us being able to compose ourselves. (Holy Redeemer) started to speed us up and get things out of sync with our offense, but once we took a breath and started to do our thing, we started to succeed,” senior Jules Gura said.
The District One Champs closed this one out with an 11-2 run, earning a 38-26 victory over the Royals in the second round of the PIAA-3A Tournament at Freedom High School.
The victory sends Basil to the state quarterfinals, for a matchup with Neumann-Goretti on Friday.
“It feels awesome. We’re gonna be happy with the win tonight,” Gura said, “but tomorrow we’re gonna go back to work and get ready for Friday.
“(State quarterfinals) is where we got last year, so we’re looking forward to getting over the hump.”
Basil (22-5) got it done with clutch free-throw shooting in the fourth quarter, a pair of big shots in the second half by Casey Remolde, and shut-down defense keyed by both Casey Remolde and Gura.
Holy Redeemer’s two big weapons, Sam Rajza and Sam Yencha, were held to a combined 12 points. Yencha’s eight were the team high for the runner-ups from District Two.
“All year, our defense is what we rely on,” Gura said. “When we play good defense, then our offense falls into place. Our shooting wasn’t there in the first half but as we decided to play our game on defense, the shots started to fall.”
Basil led by as many as eight in the first half and took a 20-16 advantage into the break. The margin would grow to 27-20 entering the fourth.
A pair of free throws by Rajza followed by a Julia Andrejko jumper brought the Royals (23-5) within three, but that is where Basil made its move.
Shots were tougher to come by for Holy Redeemer while at the other end, Gura (10 pts) converted on a key three-point play, stretching the lead to 30-24.
Denae Carter hit a runner to widen the gap and on successive possessions, Cheryl Remolde made three of four free throws, giving Basil a 35-26 lead with a couple minutes to go.
“Our seniors really stepped up tonight,” Panthers coach Terry Mancini said of Gura and Cheryl Remolde. “And foul shooting this time of year is so critical.”
“It was good to see us respond in the second half.”
Basil put this one to bed. The Panthers broke the Royals’ press in the final minute, with Gura scoring on a wide-open layup to cap the scoring.
“We were at this stage last year and we lost in the next round so we’re hoping that this year is different,” Mancini said. “Our girls are playing with a lot of confidence and we’ll see what happens.”
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