By Charlie Roth
For Digital First Media
POTTSVILLE >> It was there for the taking.
Top-seeded North Schuylkill was close enough to sniff the District 1/11 Class 3A Subregional championship.
The lead was built. The need to maintain it remained.
Then everything crashed.
St. Basil Academy, the No. 2 seed and defending tournament champion, found its game.
At the same time, the Spartans seemed to lose theirs.
Riding the crest of a huge second half, the Panthers stormed past North Schuylkill and rolled to a 57-39 victory Saturday afternoon in the final game of a postseason tripleheader at Martz Hall.
“We fell apart in the second half,” said North Schuylkill head coach Rich Wetzel, whose team will now open the PIAA Class 3A state playoffs March 9 against Mid-Valley, the third-place team from District 2, at a District 11 site. “They got us to play fast, play their game.
“We like to control the pace.”
The Spartans, despite turning the ball over on their first four possessions of the game and falling behind early, battled back to forge a 9-9 tie after a quarter and took a 20-15 lead into the locker room at the half.
Then, to make things really interesting, North Schuylkill opened the second half with a 5-0 run to push that lead to double digits at 25-15 by the 6-minute mark of the third quarter.
That lead, however, was the beginning of the end.
Turnovers — the Spartans had 30 for the game, including 17 in the second half — began to be North Schuylkill’s worst enemy.
St. Basil, which shot a woeful 6-of-29 (20.6 percent) from the field in the first half, took advantage of the extra opportunities the turnovers presented and went on a run that didn’t end until the final buzzer.
Casey Remolde and Jules Gura, with nine and seven points, respectively, fueled a 23-2 St. Basil run to end the third quarter. Remolde’s 3-pointer at the buzzer made it 38-27 heading into the final eight minutes.
“I think we got our legs going in the second half,” said Panthers coach Terry Mancini. “We couldn’t practice Friday (because of the weather) and I think that affected us in the first half.
“We talked at the half about poise.”
St. Basil’s run continued into the fourth quarter when it scored nine of the first 11 points and 13 of the first 15 as the lead swelled to 20 at 51-31 with 3:51 remaining in the game.
All told, the Panthers outscored the Spartans 42-19 after the break.
“We had that five-point lead at the half,” said Wetzel. “All we had to do was hold ground.
“We couldn’t do it.”
After that brutal shooting performance in the first half, the Panthers were much more effective, hitting 16-of-35 (45.7 percent) in the second half.
“That’s not like us,” said Mancini of his team’s first-half shooting troubles. “We’re normally a pretty good shooting team.
“Our defense has carried us all year, though, even on nights when we didn’t shoot well. You saw what we did in the second half.”
Of St. Basil’s 16 second-half field goals, 13 were scored in the paint, most a direct result of turnovers. The remaining three were launched from behind the arc.
Casey Remolde finished with a game-high 17 points and was one of three St. Basil players in double figures. She was joined by Gura, who had 15, and 6-foot freshman Denae Carter, who had 11.
North Schuylkill’s offensive leader was Averi Jordan, who finished with 15 points and became the program’s all-time leading scorer with a layup at the 5:55 mark of the fourth quarter.
Entering the game needing 14 points to achieve the milestone, she now has 1,743 for her career. Amy Wetzel, with 1,742, previously held the mark.
Freshman Mya Wetzel finished with 12 points for the Spartans, connecting four times from behind the arc.
District 1-11 Class 3A Girls Subregional Championship
At Martz Hall
ST. BASIL ACADEMY (57) — Gura 6 3-4 15, Deal 3 0-0 7, Ch. Remolde 0 2-2 2, Ca. Remolde 7 1-4 17, Carter 4 3-4 11, Grant 0 0-0 0, Sh. Remolde 2 0-1 5. Totals 22 9-15 57.
NORTH SCHUYLKILL (39) — Wetzel 4 0-0 12, Shinkus 2 2-2 6, Guerrero 2 0-0 4, Green 0 0-0 0, Jordan 4 6-6 15, Wagner 1 0-0 2. Totals 13 8-8 39.
SBA (22-5) 9 6 23 19 — 57
NS (24-3) 9 11 7 12 — 39
3-point FGs: Ca. Remolde 2, Deal, Sh. Remolde, Wetzel 4, Jordan
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