By Tom Robinson, NEPABasketball.com
SCRANTON – The Lackawanna League looked inside, outside and in between Sunday afternoon to produce the first-half offense that opened a 22-point lead on the way to a 77-55 victory over the Wyoming Valley Conference in the girls opener to the second annual Battle of the Valley All-Star Classic.
Dunmore’s Victoria Toomey, Western Wayne’s Gracie Guarino and Wallenpaupack’s Megan Guerrieri, all NEPABasketball.com divisional Player of the Year award winners during their high school careers, scored in double figures as the Lackawanna League used a variety of approaches to take control of the game early.
Toomey, the Lackawanna Division 3 Player of the Year as a junior, scored a team-high 15 points and blocked 6 shots while squaring off with the WVC’s Madison Borum from Lake-Lehman in a battle of 6-foot-1 post players.
Borum finished with a game-high 19 points, along with 6 rebounds and 3 blocked shots.
Guarino, the Division 2 Player of the Year in her junior year, finished with 12 points, 5 rebounds and 2 steals.
Guerrieri, this season’s Division 2 Player of the Year, had 11 points and 2 steals, all in the first half.
The Lackawanna League’s only deficit was 2-0.
It used 3-pointers from five different players, starting the game 5-for-8 from long range, to open a 21-7 lead with 1:45 left in the first quarter.
Then, the Lackawanna looked inside.
Toomey went 3-for-3 from close range and added a free throw, giving her seven points while the team was building the lead to 32-13 before the midway point in the second quarter.
That’s when Guerrieri got going.
When the other Lackawanna 3-point shooters cooled down, Guerrieri scored eight points in the final 2½ minutes of the half, sparking a 10-4 run to a 44-22 lead at the break.
Guerrieri hit two straight 3-pointers.
In the final three seconds of the half, she made a steal in the backcourt for the 18th of 28 WVC turnovers in the game.
Knocked off balance and with little time to work, the right-handed Guerrieri banked in a left-handed, 15-footer from the left wing at the buzzer to close out the dominant half that avenged a loss to the WVC in last year’s inaugural game.
“That was pure luck,” Guerrieri said. “I can’t do that again if I tried.”
Guerrieri is still settling college plans, but they are unlikely to include basketball.
“Especially because it could be my last game, it’s always good to end with a win,” she said.
Toomey, the lone NCAA Division I scholarship player in the game, found herself in a surprising inside duel with Borum.
Unlike many all-star games that turn into one player after another launching 3-point attempts, both teams worked the ball into the low post.
“I thought it was a good balance between outside shots and also getting it inside,” Toomey said. “Madison Borum is a great player. It was fun to play against her and play against someone who is similar height and talent-wise.
“ … I was pleasantly surprised with how much inside game there was.”
Savannah Purdy, Borum’s Lake-Lehman teammate, got the WVC off to a fast start in the second half, making steals on the first two Lackawanna possessions.
The first steal led to a Julia Andrejko basket. Then, Purdy took it herself for a three-point play.
When the Lackawanna turned the ball over again, Borum stepped outside to hit the only 3-pointer of the game by the WVC, cutting the deficit to 44-30 with 8:45 still remaining in the third quarter of the game that used college rules, including 10-minute quarters.
Lackawanna coach Natalie Winters from Western Wayne used a timeout in the early surge and the Lackawanna players took protecting their lead seriously.
Guarino had eight points in the second half, making both of her 3-point attempts and both of her free throws. The first of the 3s stopped the WVC streak.
Toomey then scored the next four Lackawanna points for a 51-32 lead.
“If you play basketball, you have a competitive streak in you,” Toomey said. “Our whole team knew going in we weren’t going to lose.
“We wanted to win this game. A lot of us wanted to go out with a win in our last high school game.”
Northwest’s Brenna Babcock, who scored 13 points, sandwiched baskets around a putback by Berwick’s Megan Dalo for a six-point WVC streak to make it 51-38 midway through the third.
Dalo led all rebounders with 10.
The WVC never got any closer.
Abby Sempa from Holy Cross hit a 3-pointer. Sempa and Kathleen Rose from Scranton Prep each had four points in the latter half of the third quarter for a 59-41 lead.
The Lackawanna gradually pulled away in the fourth quarter and closed the game on an 11-4 run.
The winners showed greater depth.
Mid Valley’s Morgan Haefele had a game-high five assists and every other Lackawanna player figured in the scoring.
While the WVC got almost all its production from the starting lineup, the Lackawanna bench put together statistical advantages of 43-10 in points, 22-11 in rebounds, 12-8 in assists and 9-6 in steals.
MORE ON THE BATTLE OF THE VALLEY
CHARITIES BENEFITED: http://nepabasketball.com/2018-19/articles/BattleValleyCheckPresentations.
GIRLS EXPANDED BOXSCORE: Complete game statistics. http://nepabasketball.com/2018-19/articles/BattleValleyBoysBox.
BOYS GAME STORY: http://nepabasketball.com/2018-19/articles/BattleValleyBoysGame.
BOYS EXPANDED BOXSCORE: http://nepabasketball.com/2018-19/articles/BattleValleyBoysBox.
FEMALE OFFICIALS: http://nepabasketball.com/2018-19/articles/BattleValleyRefs.
JOHN BUCCI’S COLUMN ON FEMALE COACHES, OFFICIALS: http://nepabasketball.com/2018-19/articles/BucciColumn12
FEATURES ON PNC BANK DISTRICT 2 PLAYERS OF THE WEEK IN THE GAME: http://www.nepabasketball.com/aotw/Boys2Bauman.
SCENES FROM PRACTICE: http://nepabasketball.com/2018-19/articles/BattleValleyPractice.
ROSTER ANNOUNCEMENT: http://nepabasketball.com/2018-19/articles/BattleValleyRosters.
GIRLS COACHES ANNOUNCEMENT: http://www.nepabasketball.com/2018-19/articles/BattleValleyGirlsCoaches.
BOYS COACHES ANNOUNCEMENT: http://nepabasketball.com/2018-19/articles/BattleValleyBoysCoaches.
2018 GIRLS GAME: http://nepabasketball.com/2017-18/all-star-classic/18-03-27-girls-recap.