GUYS MILLS — The Maplewood girls basketball team did some good things on Monday night.
The Lady Tigers notched their 12th win of the season and kept their region record unblemished. They also completed a sweep of the 2018-19 Region 2 champion Iroquois — a team that took two games from Maplewood a year ago, including an 18-point rout.
But the Tigers might have gotten a little lucky in doing so.
“I didn’t recognize that team,” Maplewood head coach Kyle Krepps said. “There was no focus. None. The girls were out there doing things that from the huddle to the court didn’t translate. That is unacceptable on a basketball team if you want to win. It can’t happen. We were darn lucky.”
The Tigers pulled out a 64-55 win over Iroquois at the Wood Shed to improve to 12-2 overall and 9-0 in Region 2. Iroquois, who shared the Region 2 crown with Cambridge Springs a year ago, fell to 6-7 overall and 5-4 in the region.
It looked like it was going to be Iroquois’ night — Angelina Meola’s night more appropriately.
Meola lit up the scoreboard for 25 points in the first half, accounting for all but three of the Braves’ first-half points. She shot 5 of 6 in the first quarter, even staking the Braves to an early 6-1 advantage. Meola was the Braves’ lone scorer until Alexis DiFuccia made a free throw with 4:22 to play in the first half.
“Angelina chewed us up and spit us out,” Krepps said. “One-on-five in the first half for 25 points. Especially when you game plan to stop one girl and she still scores it. That’s just not working hard enough.”
Fortunately, the Tigers had a pretty steady scorer of their own in Megan Mangus, who drove for six points in the first quarter and 13 points total in the first half to help Maplewood secure a 34-28 advantage.
“Izzy (Eimer) and Jordan (Roser) kind of lit them up, up (at Iroquois),” Krepps said. “That wasn’t going to happen too much. So that was big with Megan scoring.”
“It was a surprise,” Iroquois coach Sadie Zielinski said of Mangus’ performance. “Our main focus was to shut down the 3. That was our main focus, but they still got a couple.”
Maplewood was also aided by the fact that Iroquois was down a starter for most of the second quarter after Desiree Meola suffered an injury with 7:40 to play in the half and had to leave the game. She did not return until the second half.
The second half — despite Maplewood never losing the lead — is where things got really interesting.
Jordan Roser knocked down a wide open 3-pointer with 4:03 left in the third quarter to give the Tigers a 42-31 lead. Iroquois answered, however, with an 11-2 run to cut that lead to just four points (44-40) with 1:31 left in the quarter. The run — that did not include a single basket by Angelina Meola — was capped by a pair of free throws by DiFuccia that were set up by the Braves out-hustling the Tigers for a rebound on a desperation shot that was way off mark.
The Tigers did bounce back to take a 49-42 advantage into the final frame. Maplewood had the Braves right where it wanted them in that last quarter. With 7:02 left in the game, Ameeleah Selby fouled out for the Braves. At the 2:46 mark, Angelina Meola was saddled with her fifth foul and was forced to exit the contest. Then Jasmine Meola fouled out with 38 seconds left.
Still, the Braves made it a game due to some poor clock management by the Tigers late. Instead of slowing down the offense, Maplewood was putting up low-percentage shots. Not what Krepps advised them to do in the timeout huddle. Fortunately for Maplewood, it made its free throws and held on for the victory.
“That’s the only good news is we won the game,” Krepps said. “I guess you have to go through these games. But … it scares me.”
Angelina Meola finished with a game-best 27 points. DiFuccia aded 11 points and 12 rebounds.
For Maplewood, Roser led the way with 17 points. Mangus finished with 16 points. Izzy Eimer tallied 15 points and Sadie Thomas, who was 5-for-6 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter, finished with 12 points.