YATESVILLE – Just as last season’s results have done nothing to hinder the progress being made by this season’s Lake-Lehman girls basketball team, the damage inflicted by host Pittston Area in the first 14 minutes Monday night was no factor in stopping the Lady Knights over the remaining 18 minutes.
Lake-Lehman sustained its unlikely position in the middle of the Wyoming Valley Conference Division 2 race by overcoming a 13-point, second-quarter deficit on the way to a 51-48, crossover, road victory over the Division 1 contenders.
“We got off to a bit of a slow start, but the girls responded,” Lake-Lehman coach Charlie Lavan said.
The win improved the Lady Knights to 8-1 in the WVC, one game behind conference unbeatens Nanticoke and Holy Redeemer, which are both ahead on the Lake-Lehman schedule. It also made Lake-Lehman (9-5 overall) the only WVC girls team that already has two more wins than in the entire 2016-17 season. It has beaten Division 1 opponents Hazleton Area, Crestwood and Lake-Lehman after losing to the three by a combined 40 points last season.
“I’m really pleased with our effort,” Lavan said. “We just have to continue it one game at a time and see where it’s going to take us.”
Pittston Area seemed minutes away from running Lake-Lehman out of Monday’s games, but the Lady Patriots could not get into the locker room without the bulk of their comfortable lead getting away.
“Our team struggles a little with confidence,” said Savannah Purdy, who led the rally and finished with 19 points. “Going on runs like that, especially right before the half, really boosts us.”
Lake-Lehman caught up with a 15-2 run that continued into the third quarter. The Lady Knights were not done. They also surged in front early and midway through the fourth quarter, then held on down the stretch.
After Purdy sparked the comeback, other players led the closing effort. All five players in the all-underclassmen starting lineup went the distance with each scoring at least seven points and those who scored the least contributed elsewhere.
Jodie Salansky had 10 points and eight rebounds.
Sarah Salus had eight of her nine points in the fourth quarter. She hit half of her six foul shots in the quarter, including one out of two twice in the last 44.1 seconds after Pittston Area had closed to within 49-48 on Alexa Noone’s fifth 3-pointer.
Corinna Scoblick was the last to make one of two free throws, clinching the game with 3.3 seconds left. She finished with seven points and six assists.
Pittston Area’s superior depth in the post contributed to Lake-Lehman center Madison Borum being held scoreless in the first half. Borum helped elsewhere with game-highs of 13 rebounds, five steals and four blocked shots. Her seven points included what Pittston Area coach Kathy Healey said was the game’s biggest basket.
Noone, who finished with 19 points, made a 3-pointer with 3:12 left to force the last tie at 43-43.
Salansky’s 3-pointer gave Lake-Lehman the lead with three minutes left.
Coming out of a Pittston Area timeout, Borum stepped outside the arc and nailed a 3-pointer to stun the Lady Patriots and give the Lady Knights a 49-43 lead with 2:25 left.
“She got a ton of rebounds,” Lavan said. “She played good defense and she made some nice passes and stole a few.
“Madison brings us a complete game this year. If it’s not scoring, it’s defense, it’s rebounds, it’s getting loose balls. She gets a lot of loose balls for us. She really works.”
Pittston Area used a nine-point streak, six points by sophomore center Leah Hodick and a 3-pointer by Noone to end the first quarter, to take a 17-7 lead 30 seconds into the second quarter.
Reserve post player Emma Coles had four points in an eight-point streak to a 25-12 lead.
That’s when Lake-Lehman fought back. The Lady Knights held the Lady Patriots scoreless for 5:58 while getting the offense going, too.
“We just knew that we had to bring up our intensity,” Purdy said. “As we played defense, it got our offense going.
“We knew once we did that, we’d be better in the second half.”
Scoblick hit a 3-pointer, then Purdy added a 3-pointer and two foul shots, all in the final 1:10 of the second quarter to cut the halftime deficit to 25-20.
“Savannah hit those big shots right before halftime,” Lavan said. “That got us back in it.
“That got us a little momentum change. Our confidence level was up. We just did everything with more energy in the second half.”
Borum opened the second-half scoring with her first points.
After Noone scored, Purdy hit a 3-pointer and a transition basket off a Scoblick feed for a 27-27 tie with 4:25 left in the third quarter.
The teams traded the lead nine times and were tied three more times over the next nine minutes.
Salus had five points in a 9-4 start to the fourth quarter. Purdy, who was 4-for-6 from 3-point range, hit another bomb on an open shot in transition after Borum had stolen an entry pass.