BROCKWAY— Monday night was the last regular season game for the Brockway Lady Rovers, and with a playoff berth just on the horizon and well within their grasp, the red-and-white squad made sure they went out with a bang.
Thanks to a strong second quarter that saw the Lady Rovers outscore their opponents 20-1, as well as a 21-point performance by Kaitlyn Morelli, the Brockway roster gave it their all and more and were rewarded with a 55-22 victory over the Sheffield Lady Wolverines.
The win comes at a crucial time for the Lady Rovers, who, before the game, held a AML South division record of 6-7, and were but one victory shy of cementing a spot in the District-9 postseason.
Having now achieved that goal, both Brockway and their head coach Dick Esposito can breathe a sigh of relief and focus on the coming weeks ahead.
“From the beginning of the season to where we are now, we are peaking at the right time,” Esposito said regarding his team’s playing efforts. “We started out 2-6, but now we’re 7-7. In our last two contests of the season. When you can go 7-7 and play some really close ball games and with the losses that we’ve had, it’s a really good thing. The kids should be proud, and they’re really excited being able to go to the playoffs. This is very exciting.”
That excitement almost didn’t happen, however, as the early minutes of the first quarter saw a very different Brockway team than what they would be later on.
Adriana Azzato put the Lady Rovers up 2-0 with an early bucket from the corner wing, but two consecutive baskets from Sheffield saw Brockway squander their lead and trail the Lady Wolverines, 4-2.
With 4:57 left in the quarter, Esposito called for a timeout to rally his troops and get them back into contention before things spiraled out of control.
Regrouped and refocused, the Lady Rovers returned a much more determined team, and the results were noticeable.
Leah Lindemuth tied the score up at 4-4 with a basket from down low and propelled Brockway over Sheffield 8-4 with a pair of buckets from the field.
Katlyn Cappetta got in on the action late in the quarter as well with a feed down low from Lindemuth, and drive down the middle by Morelli ensured that the Lady Rovers walked into the second quarter leading 15-5.
Brockway’s momentum ceased to stop in the second period of play, as the team managed to outscore the opposing Lady Wolverines 20-1.
Lindemuth got things started with a successful outing at the free-throw line to increase Brockway’s lead to 17-5, while Morelli added to that tally with two consecutive fast-break buckets to make the score 21-5.
The combined forces of Lindemuth and Morelli gave way to 18 total points in the second quarter, and a final full-court layup from Savannah Buttery made sure the Lady Rovers sat with a comfortable 35-6 lead heading into the second-half.
The chain of Brockway’s success all stemmed from the single timeout called in the first quarter, and Esposito says that moment of regrouping was what changed the momentum of the game.
“We started off the game slow. I don’t know if it was nerves or whatever,” Esposito said. “During the timeout, I told them ‘it’s time that we came out and start playing our game and quit going through the motions. Let’s start playing basketball,’ and we got off on about four or five fast-breaks and started breaking and playing our game... We did well once we got into the flow of the game.”
From there on out, Brockway controlled the game. Though they fell a slight step or two behind in the third quarter, where Sheffield outscored them 9-8, they picked things back up in the final quarter, where the team amassed 12 points en-route to their 55-22 victory.
Of those points, 21 of them belonged to Morelli, who led all players in scoring during the night’s event. Lindemuth also put up an admirable performance with a 16-point night, while Azzato added another seven to the Brockway tally.
Though the starting rotation played a role in the game’s end result, the Lady Rovers received help from their bench as well, with the seven other players adding nine points for Brockway’s the winning effort.
“We needed some bench scoring, and they came in and played pretty well,” Esposito said about his players’ contributions. “All in all, it was just a great effort with the starting five, and the kids that came in (off the bench) really played hard. We’re a physical ball team and we like to play fast, and we can when we want to... We got where we wanted to be and needed to be, and it was a great win for the entire team.”
Brockway finishes the regular season with an overall record of 9-13 and will now prepare for the upcoming playoffs.