By Lisa Byers
In the postseason, there are only a few athletes who get the privilege of finishing with a win. That is something Saegertown senior Arianna Hanley can live with.
But what Hanley is having a hard time understanding is how the Lady Panthers’ season and her high school basketball career came to an end on Saturday afternoon.
Everything that Saegertown did to earn its spot in the District 10 Class AA tournament was somehow left behind yesterday during its quarterfinal contest against General McLane at Gannon University’s Hammermill Center.
The Lady Panthers, who entered the game allowing an average of just 32.4 points per game, fell behind 35-8 at the half and shot just over 20 percent from the field for the game on their way to a 54-25 loss to the Lancers.
“Being a senior, it really stinks,” Hanley said, fighting back tears. “You go out there and play your hardest and you know your team is so much better than they are playing. My heart hurts. I know we could have had a shot at it if we had come out with our ‘A’ game. But obviously that wasn’t the case.”
Saegertown had an opportunity to really test the Lady Lancers, who came into the game averaging at least six 3-pointers per game and with six players owning at least 11 treys.
Saegertown head coach Steve Scott was hopeful his team’s zone defense would be able to shut down the Lancers’ outside game and put some pressure on their offense. For the most part, the Panthers were successful doing just that. In fact, the Lancers knocked down just three 3-pointers for the game.
What the Panthers weren’t counting on was the emergence of Louisa Lytle inside and such a struggle of their own on the offensive end. That combination allowed the Lancers to take a 22-0 lead with 5:41 to play in the first half. It was smooth sailing from there.
“We had some nice looks at the hoop early and we’re throwing up bricks,” Scott said. “We just could not put the ball in the hoop. When you get down 10 or 15 points to a team like (General McLane) … You’re done.”
Saegertown scored its first points with 5:08 left in the second quarter on a 3-point play by Hanley. The Panthers finished with eight points in the quarter, but trailed 35-8 at the break.
Saegertown played the Lancers even the rest of the way.
“Coming in knowing they only play a 2-3 zone, you come in relying on your 3-point shooting,” General McLane coach Sarah Jay said. “You rely on, are we going to be hitting the 3s? And they defend the outside very well, better than anyone we have faced. So for Louisa to step up like she did (yesterday), that is huge.”
Lytle came in averaging 3.4 points per game — sixth on the team. She finished the game with a game-high 10 points. Celeste Seidel added eight points for the Lancers. Lindsay Jahn and Katie Clark finished with seven each.
Saegertown missed 14 shots in the first quarter — few of which were even close to the hoop — and was outrebounded 12-7 in that period. The Panthers did come up with quite a few turnovers in the second quarter, but as quickly as they came up with the ball, they turned it back over.
“(Yesterday) was not one of our better games,” Scott said. “Terrible.”
Which makes it that much more difficult to swallow.
“I don’t even know,” Hanley said. “I can’t even put it into words. We came out here and were shellshocked almost.
“I think we were told by so many people that we had no shot and I think some of us took that to heart and stopped thinking that we had a chance.”
The Panthers finish their season at 14-8. The loss also marks the end to the careers of Rachel DiBartolomeo, who led the Cats with eight points, Elizabeth Lilly, Ashley Shouey, Katie Kapanick and Brooke Caldwell.
General McLane improved to 21-2 and advances to the semifinals where it will face Mercer at a date, time and site yet to be determined.