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Season ends in Districts for scrappy Harriton squad

Flourtown >> Seniors Ava Paternoster and Kira Farmer were not ready to see their Harriton girls’ basketball careers end. A year after coming within 16 minutes of a PIAA Class 5A state tournament berth, the pair were hoping for some more postseason magic.
Unfortunately, that did not happen as the 12th seeded Rams fell to the 5th seeded Mount St. Joseph’s Academy, 45-35, in the opening round of the PIAA District One Class 5A tournament Feb. 18.
“I am very proud of this group,” said Harriton girls’ basketball head coach coach Chris Wielgus. “They have never given up on me or any of the coaching staff. They play until the final possession. We are a feisty team who did a great job of holding Mount below their scoring average. We got some good looks offensively, but unfortunately our shots did not fall tonight.”
“It’s really sad,” said Paternoster. “I love this team. They are really great people. I am going to miss the game, but I am also going to miss the team because we were like a family and it was such a good environment and I am going to miss being part of something like that.”
Trailing most of the game, and by 19 points to start the fourth quarter, the Rams made a furious fourth-period charge, hitting five treys in the final stanza. Three of the treys came from junior Lexy Calhoun, with one each from sophomores Maretta Smith and Annie Aspesi, but it wasn’t enough as the early deficit turned out to be too much to overcome.
“We were blessed to have great senior leadership this year,” said Aspesi, who finished with 10 points. “Like Ava said, we are like a family and the passion for the game the seniors had was huge. They treated everyone like family and the team grows with them and we could not have grown without them. Hopefully this game will give us confidence as we head into the offseason and continue to work hard and develop.”
Taking the court with a young team this year, Paternoster and Farmer were hoping to lead a hungry group back to the postseason. With patience and the desire to work hard, the Rams overcame a 1-4 start and won three consecutive games to even their record at 4-4.
After evening their record, they continued to work and grind toward reaching their goal of a PIAA District One Class 5A playoff berth and were also aiming for one of the top six spots (formerly top 4 spots) in the Central League tournament.
Needing to win their final two Central League games to get into the league playoffs, Harriton responded with wins over Penncrest and Marple Newtown to clinch the sixth and final spot.
“We are a work in progress and God bless senior co-captains Ava (Paternoster) and Kira (Farmer) for their perseverance with a program that struggled to one that advanced to the district tournament twice and made the Central League tournament for the first time in a long time,” Wielgus said. “We’ll work hard this summer and hopefully it will pay off next year.”
“One thing I hope I left with this team is having a sense of perspective,” said Farmer. “When it comes to big games and these bigger teams and we are rising up as a program, it’s important to keep ourselves humble and keep working and just taking things one game at a time. Hopefully they can continue to build as players and as a team.”

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