Dawgs halt the Rollers

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STEELTON - First, Tara Nahodil marched to the bench before the first quarter was over.

Juli Weber followed the 6-foot-4 center less than a minute-and-a-half into the second.

Tri-Valley was clinging to a four-point lead in a foreign gym, facing two-time defending state champion Steel-High in a game that had all of the intensity of a state playoff contest.

The Dawgs' role players stepped up.

Stepped up for the rest of the first half. Stepped up down the stretch. And stepped up in the final frantic seconds as Tri-Valley erased a one-point deficit in the final 52 seconds to earn a 74-71 non-league victory January 5 at the Roller Pit.

In a game with the intensity of this one, it wasn't just the final 52 seconds that mattered. The whole game teetered on the brink throughout as the score see-sawed back and forth in favor of the Dawgs and Rollers.

Ultimately, a slight defensive adjustment down the stretch helped the Dawgs (10-2) force a pair of turnovers that they turned into buckets for the win.

"We made a little bit of an adjustment that should have been made sooner, but the idiot coach doesn't think fast enough," Tri-Valley coach Bob Felty Jr. said. "We made an adjustment with the way we were trying to trap and have her get rid of the ball. Fortunately, it created a couple of turnovers. Our girls' rotation was perfect, and our girls made plays. If your girls make plays, you're going to win games."

Trailing 71-70, Nahodil tipped a ball into the post two or three times before corralling it. That led to an offensive set during which Kylie Spickler found the Seton Hall signee in the paint for a bucket and a 72-71 lead with 44 seconds left.

Then, Taylor Troutman trapped Steel-High superstar Malia Tate-DeFreitas, trying to force Tate-DeFreitas to pass the ball off.

The Hampton-bound senior tried to drive and ended up fumbling the ball. Troutman snagged the loose ball, outletted to Weber. Weber dished to Chelsea Stutzman, who then found Kylie Spickler for an easy layup and a 74-71 edge with 28 seconds left.

"Our goal was to double her, make her pass the ball and once the ball got out of her hands ... well, it didn't really get out of her hands because Taylor Troutman did an awesome job," Weber said. "As she was laying on the ground, she threw it.

"We always have girls hustling, looking to make the big play. It just kind of favored us."

The efforts of Troutman, Stutzman, Spickler, Brittany Smeltz, Katie Dietrich and Paige Doyle proved enormous for the Dawgs, especially without their two leading scorers on the floor.

Spickler finished with a career-high 17 points, but most importantly took over defending Tate-DeFreitas.

"She's a very good player," Spickler said. "I know that I had to step up my game and I had to trust my players behind me that they had my back."

Tate-DeFreitas finished with 45 points - a typical night for her. Most importantly, though, Spickler and Co. harassed the high-scorer and forced her into off-balance shots that included a potential game-tying 3-pointer that didn't draw iron.

"Kylie finished with 17 and that's not even important to me," Felty said. "What's important to me ... I know No. 0 had a lot of points, but with Juli in foul trouble, Kylie basically guarded her the whole game. To me that was more significant than Kylie scoring 17 points."

Tate-DeFreitas reached double figures in every quarter and finished with 19 rebounds. She constantly attempted to drive to the bucket and finished 17-of-40 from the floor, while the Rollers (10-1) went 28-of-80 (35 percent) from the floor collectively.

"I knew it would be close because our bench players always come up big, even at practice," Weber said. "We guard them; they guard us. We knew it wouldn't have been a problem."

Weber was having herself a night, scoring 18 points before drawing her third foul with 6:26 left in the second quarter. She finished with 22 points, eight rebounds, three steals and four assists.

Nahodil had just two points before picking up her second foul in the first quarter and heading to the bench. She came up huge in the second half on both ends of the floor, scoring 10 points in the fourth quarter. Nahodil finished with 18 points, six rebounds, six blocks and the key steal in the fourth quarter.

"I knew that they needed me to step up finally," Nahodil said. "I didn't do that in the first half. I'm glad I could contribute to the game a little bit in the fourth quarter."

Troutman finished with eight points and was pesky on defense and the glass. She finished with 19 rebounds, including 13 in the first half.

With Nahodil and Weber on the bench in the second quarter, the Dawgs stayed composed. Troutman, Spickler, Smeltz, Stutzman and Dietrich each came up with big buckets to keep the Dawgs not only in the game but in the lead at 40-39 at the break.

"I really believe in our subs," Felty said. "We play a different way, obviously, when we don't have Tara in the game. Brittany Smeltz and Katie Dietrich and Kylie Spickler and Paige Doyle are girls that don't get a whole lot of credit, but they're a group of good guards, who really stepped up for us especially in the first half."

Halifax 47

U. Dauphin 43

HALIFAX - Kylee Sorichetti scored 10 of her 12 points in the first quarter to push the Wildcats to an early lead in a Tri-Valley League victory over the Trojans.

Upper Dauphin's Katie Schwenk led all scorers with 18 points.

Brianna Custer paced Halifax with 14 points.

Pine Grove 56

Tamaqua 46

PINE GROVE - Becky Evans poured in a game-high 26 points as Pine Grove pulled away in the second half to take over first place in the division after a 56-46 victory over Tamaqua in a Schuylkill League Division I contest January 5.

Evans scored 11 of her points in the second quarter. Shannon Zimmerman added a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Cardinals, who held a 22-13 scoring advantage in the second half.

With the win, Pine Grove moved a half-game ahead of North Schuylkill for the division lead.

Wms. Valley 43

Sch. Haven 27

TOWER CITY - Cassidy Pinchorski bucketed a game-high 20 points as the Vikings routed the Hurricanes in a Division II contest.

Emma Schweigert led Schuylkill Haven with 16 points.

Tri-Valley 73

Lourdes 58

HEGINS - Tara Nahodil, Juli Weber and Taylor Troutman combined to score 61 points as the Dawgs routed the Red Raiders January 3 in a Division II contest.

Nahodil led the way with 21 points, while Weber and Troutman contributed 20 apiece for Tri-Valley.

Rachel Schultz scored a game-high 24 points for Lourdes.

Lourdes 48

Wms. Valley 26

COAL TOWNSHIP - Sarah Getchey scored 14 points as the Red Raiders routed the Vikings in a Division II contest.

Nikki Komara and Rachel Schultz added 10 points apiece for Lourdes, which led 11-2 after the first quarter.

Cassidy Pinchorski scored a team-high 10 points for Williams Valley.

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