Berlin Brothersvalley girls catch fire to beat St. Joseph for trip to PIAA Class 1A quarterfinals

Mar. 14—GREENSBURG — The bright lights of the PIAA Class 1A girls basketball playoffs may suit Berlin Brothersvalley freshman guard Coral Prosser.

The Mountaineers were abandoned by their 3-point shooting for 16 minutes Wednesday night during a second-round playoff game against District 7 runner-up St. Joseph at Spartan Field House, but thanks mainly to dogged team defense and Prosser's offensive brilliance with a game-high 33 points, the District 5 champion Mountaineers advanced with a 61-50 victory.

"I think she and her teammates did a good job of taking what her teammates gave them, being under control with the ball and not forcing things," Berlin Brothersvalley coach Rachel Prosser said.

Everyone on the Mountaineers' sidelines attempted to preach patience in the first half. Berlin Brothervalley's offense stumbled out of the gate. The Mountaineers went 0 of 9 from the 3-point line and trailed 22-20 at halftime.

"I feel we had a lot of turnovers in the first half," said Berlin Brothersvalley senior forward Taylor Hillegass, who finished with seven points. "We needed to relax and wait for the open shot. We had to move the ball move."

Fortunately for Berlin Brothersvalley, the Mountaineers' defense smothered St. Joseph. The Spartans only shot 30% (9 of 30) in the first half.

"We talked about it for days," St. Joseph coach Geoff Dutelle said.

"Their physicality jumped out on film. We likened it to an old Big East game. We said it was going to be physical, drag them out, and have to play all four quarters at that physicality. We knew what it was, but going out and having to play against it for 32 minutes is different. They are a tremendous defensive team."

Berlin Brothersvalley (23-5) didn't gain control until after halftime.

Senior Regan Lauer made the Mountaineers' first 3-pointer with 7:04 left in the third quarter to cut the deficit to 25-23.

Following a defensive stop, the Mountaineers went ahead 26-25 on a layup and free throw by Hillegass.

Berlin Brothersvalley was effective in transition, and the Mountaineers caught St. Joseph napping in transition to get easy baskets.

"We noticed they don't switch," Hillegass said. "When they don't switch, we could set screens and get open underneath."

St. Joseph (24-3) battled back to tie the game at 33-all following a layup by Julie Spinelli. However, the Spartans' momentum was short-lived.

Coral Prosser, a freshman with two Division I offers, knocked down a 3-pointer with 1:40 left in the third quarter, putting Berlin Brothersvalley ahead for good.

Spinelli led St. Joseph with 19 points. Anna Kreinbrook scored 10 points for the Spartans.

The Mountaineers, who went to the 2023 PIAA semifinals, were excited to take another step toward making return.

Berlin Brothersvalley will take on District 6 third-place finisher Williamsburg Saturday at a site and time to be determined.

Saturday will serve as a rubber match between both Inter-County Conference teams. Williamsburg beat Berlin Brothersvalley 46-42 on Jan. 18. The Mountaineers prevailed 60-47 in the ICC title game on Feb. 17.

"We don't want our season to be over is the biggest thing," Coach Prosser said.