By Tyler Trumbauer,Staff Writer
14-0 in the Lehigh Valley Conference. 21-1 overall this season.
Those are the marks of the #1 seeded Bethlehem Catholic lady Hawks heading in to Tuesday night’s battle with the Parkland lady Trojans who were the #4 seed with a 10-4; 17-5 record respectively.
However, the contest did not end as you may have expected it to.
The second game of the LVC semi-final double header at Easton Middle school was exhilarating to say the very least. The atmosphere in the gymnasium was intense as the spectators were hanging on every call by the referees right from the start. That ferocity was maintained until the final buzzer sounded on what was a Parkland victory by a score of 60-54.
Becahi led by ninth year head coach Bill Lanscek won the opening tip-off and took an early lead. Both squads kept it close in what was a quick first quarter. Parkland showcased their up-tempo offense right out of the gate, but Becahi was able to stay with it and hold a two-point lead, 15-13 after the first quarter.
Becahi’s ball movement in the first half really helped them combat that high-octane offense that Parkland runs that brings not a single dull moment when the ball is in their possession. However, that all changed after Becahi called a timeout with 3:43 left in the first half after mounting their biggest lead, 26-18.
Coming out of that timeout, the roles reversed and the Trojans took command of the game. Led by their leading scorer, guard Olivia Brown, who posted 18 points in the winning-effort, Parkland went on an 11-2 run to end the first half. That swung the momentum completely in Parkland’s direction and head coach, Wes Spence, expressed to me how key that was to his team, “The girls were excited. We are a group that fights. We are a group that fights for 32 minutes. We could tell in the locker room that what we were doing was wearing on them.”
Emerging from the locker room to start the second half, the Bethlehem Catholic Hawks looked dejected while the Trojans, with that aforementioned momentum on their side, were ecstatic to begin the second half of that posteseason game. That demeanor set-up the tempo for the earlier part of the 3rd quarter until the Hawks, with their backs against their walls, put up their best effort and climbed their way back in to it.
Becahi took advantage of the time when Parkland’s senior guard, Missy Oertner, was on the bench for most of the third quarter after she acquired her third foul of the evening. Spence called his first timeout of the second half with 1:44 left in the third period trying to stave off any comeback as he saw their lead dwindle to one point as the scoreboard read 39-38.
Taking a three point lead in to the final quarter of play, the Trojans found themselves losing early on by a slim margin. Costly turnovers by the Hawks were keeping the Trojans in the game throughout the fourth. After a Becahi timeout with 4:53 left in the win-or-go-home game, 3:37 seconds of game time elapsed with only two points being scored, those belonging to Parkland.
With the clock dwindling, nerves were setting in on both teams as it was a high-pressure situation for the last minute of the game. After Becahi fouled the aforementioned Brown, she stood at the free-throw line facing a one and one with 43 seconds remaining in the game. She drained both of the clutch free throws.
The exchange of crucial foul shots ensued for the final thirty seconds of the game. Arguably the two biggest were the ones attempted by Becahi’s Bridget Smith. With 14 seconds left on the clock, the score was 56-54 with Parkland leading and Smith missed both shots.
Brown, who would have had my vote for game MVP if there was one, sealed the victory with two tense free throws with 4 seconds left to extend their lead to 58-54.
Kalista Walters of Bethlehem Catholic delivered with 18 points of her own to be the leading scorer for the Hawks who now have off until the district tournament next week.
The Trojans will play again this upcoming Friday at Easton Middle school against the #3 seed Nazareth for the LVC crown. Fresh off the upset victory, Spence shared with me his thoughts and feelings heading in to that championship game, “This is the rubber match. We split the games during the regular season. Nazareth has a lot of shooters. They are a lot different than Becahi. They will look to get out and pass the ball and we are looking forward to trying to stop them.”
Follow me on Twitter @extrapointTCG