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Downingtown East falls in state opener to Nazareth

Ches-Mont League champion Downingtown East saw its season end Friday evening with a 68-40 loss to District 11 champ Nazareth in the opening round of the PIAA Class 6A girls’ basketball state tournament.
The Cougars (21-9), the 11th-place finisher in the District 1 Class 6A tournament, took an early 11-10 lead with 1:45 to go in the first quarter on a putback by Liberty University-bound senior Bella Smuda.
Nazareth (25-4) responded with a 20-0 run in the next 6 ½ minutes, led at halftime 36-16, and built a 55-31 lead by the end of the third quarter in the contest at Freedom High School in Bethlehem.
“Nazareth played its type of game very well, got us out of our offensive rhythm, and their shot selection was tremendous,” said Downingtown East head coach Tom Schurtz.
For Nazareth, sophomore guard Kelly Lesczynski tallied 21 points (including a trio of treys) and Talya Brugler led the Blue Eagles in scoring with 24 points.
Schurtz said, “It was a tough night for us, but I’m really proud of our team and how far it has come in the past two years – two 21-win seasons, two Ches-Mont League titles, two appearances in the state tournament.”
Smuda, in the final game of her illustrious Downingtown East career, scored 10 points, and sophomore Lauren Kent tallied 12 to lead the Cougars in scoring.
“I enjoyed working with this team,” said Schurtz. “I know that I’ll look back and remember how tight-knit this team was, how hard they collectively played for each other this season, and how much they respected each other’s willingness to work. I’m proud that, whatever success and shortcomings this team had, they did it all together.”

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