SMETHPORT — The Brockway Lady Rovers’ stint in the postseason came to an abrupt end Tuesday night.
Led by a 30-point night by Abby Woodard, and an equally tenacious and hungry Lady Hubber offense, No. 8-seeded Smethport was too much for the Lady Rovers to overcome.
And, by the end of the night, Brockway saw its playoff hopes dashed by a decisive 61-30 loss to the host Lady Hubbers in first round of the District 9 Class A playoffs.
The Lady Rovers came into the night riding the momentum of their late admittance into the postseason, but a slow first quarter and an even slower third proved to be their downfall. Though the second quarter saw a much more competitive and fiery Brockway team, the Lady Rovers simply could not keep pace with a hot-handed Smethport squad.
“We got through that first quarter, and the nerves and the jitters were gone, and the kids really got back into it in the second,” Brockway head coach Dick Esposito said concerning his team’s performance. “We played a great second quarter. We were down double figures, pulled within seven again. Missed a couple wide-open shots at the beginning of the third quarter that could have gotten us within three.
“Then (Smethport) came one... and (Woodard) had one great game. She really did. She dominated from beginning to end. But our kids, I’ll tell you, never gave up. And they don’t, they’re not quitters.”
The Lady Rovers no-quit attitude was on full display in the first quarter, where Smethport outscored Brockway 17-4.
The Lady Hubbers offense was kick-started by Hailey Wright when the Smethport junior scored off a putback to give the home team the early 2-0 lead.
Kaitlyn Morelli responded quickly for Brockway with a far-corner bucket to tie the score at 2-2, but a drive through the lane by Wright saw Smethport take back the lead at 4-2.
From there, the Lady Hubbers went on a scoring tear, netting six more buckets and 13 more points to close the quarter with a commanding 17-4 lead.
But, as has been the case for the majority of the regular season, the Lady Rovers found their stride in the second-quarter, where they outscored Smethport by a margin of 14-8.
The scoring spurt was fueled by an early jumper by Leah Lindemuth and sustained by a field-shot by Morelli to pull Brockway within 17-8.
A bucket down low by Woodard doubled the Lady Hubbers’ lead to 19-8, but a timely jumper from the foul-line by Katlyn Cappetta nullified the home team’s gain and made the score 19-10.
By the end of the half, Brockway trailed by only seven points, and with the scoreboard at 25-18, all the hallmarks of a Lady Rovers comeback were set in place.
Unfortunately, Brockway’s hard work would not come to fruition, as two consecutive three-pointers by Emily Treat in the early moments of the second half sucked the Lady Rovers’ momentum, and from there, the Smethport would go on a huge 24-8 scoring tear, ending the quarter up 47-26.
The scoring success of the Lady Hubbers only got better in the fourth quarter, and by buzzer’s end, Smethport had claimed the night as their own by a final of 61-30.
A huge factor in the home team’s win came from their seemingly unstoppable offense, particularly from Woodard, who scored a whopping 30 points and pulled down 13 rebounds.
As Esposito notes, facing obstacles like those proved too great a challenge to overcome, and despite his team’s fighting spirit, the Lady Hubbers simply had all the momentum going in their favor.
“Them catching fire and a ton of their shots going in really was the key to the game,” Esposito said. “I mean, there’s really no answer to that. There isn’t. They got hot, and the hotter they got, the colder we got, and we just couldn’t answer basket to basket.
“We tried, we had a nice comeback to try, but we couldn’t answer. We just couldn’t answer back. And then (the game) just sort of fell out of hand.”
Still, Brockway’s offense had its moments, and a solid 14-point night by Morelli kept the Lady Rovers in competition for much of the game.
Lindemuth’s added 10, while Cappetta had four points and nine rebounds.
Despite the loss and the early exit from the playoffs, Esposito remains optimistic about the future, and believes his team will one day reach the promised land of the District 9 title-game at Clarion University.
“I think we’re going to have a pretty darn good team coming back next year,” Esposito said. “Eventually, our goal is to get to Clarion. And we’re going to get there. We will get there. That’s our goal.
“It may take a while, but it could just happen next year. We just don’t know. So, we’ll just go from there and look forward to it.”
With Brockway’s elimination, Smethport will now go on to play top-seeded North Clarion on Friday at a destination yet to be determined.