H.S. Girls Basketball: Hazleton Area regroups, holds off Holy Redeemer in WVC semifinal

Feb. 15—YATESVILLE — Hazleton Area found itself in a familiar, unwanted spot Wednesday night, watching a lead slowly evaporate the way it had in two losses to Dallas to wrap the regular season.

With a spot in the WVC championship on the line against Holy Redeemer, the Cougars didn't let this one get away.

Hazleton Area reasserted itself on defense and managed to quell a Redeemer comeback, holding off the Royals 67-61 to advance to Saturday's conference championship.

The Cougars looked as though they would have a fairly pedestrian trip through their semifinal clash with Redeemer, holding the Royals to just four first-quarter points and taking a 12-point lead into halftime.

Out of the break, though, the Royals started to find the form that led them to a Division 2 championship, breaking down the Hazleton press for layups while turning the Cougars over several times down the other end.

"I thought we had everything going in the first quarter...with a couple things, we let them off the hook," Hazleton Area coach Joe Gavio said. "To our credit, we got the composure, made some defensive stops, made a couple foul shots."

After Hazleton Area caused the Redeemer offense fits in the first half, the door began to open for the Royals in the third quarter, and they took full advantage.

With 1:21 remaining in the quarter, Megan Albrecht beat the Cougars defense at the rim to give Redeemer a one-point lead, its first of the game.

That was as good as the Royals could do. Hazleton Area came back down the other end to score and take the lead, and finished the quarter on a mini 6-0 run to lead 49-44 heading to the fourth.

Freshman Kaitlyn Bindas was a huge part of the Cougars' regrouping, knocking down a critical three-pointer to help Hazleton Area regain control.

She finished with a game-high 23 points, and also had several steals on defense that led to Hazleton Area points in transition.

"We just had to take good shots, make the extra pass and take the layups," Bindas said. "We just keep going, we never stop. ... One bad play doesn't really affect us."

Holy Redeemer hung around the final eight minutes — and at one point had a Brooke Kroptavich look from three that would have taken back the lead — but couldn't get over the hump.

Eight made free throws in the fourth quarter kept Hazleton Area ahead, and a layup and foul drawn by Alexis Reimold wrapped up the win — and a spot in the WVC championship game — for Hazleton Area.

Backing up Bindas in the scoring column for Hazleton Area was Sophia Shults, who had 18 points.

Albrecht led the Royals with 17 points, while Kroptavich and Bella Boylan each scored 11 points.

WVC tournament semifinals

Hazleton Area 67, Holy Redeemer 61

HAZLETON AREA (67) — Benyo 2 5-6 9, Bindas 9 4-6 23, Lagowy 1 2-2 5, Reimold 3 2-5 8, S. Shults 7 4-8 18, Marolo 2 5-6 9, Eberts 0 0-0 0, Williams 0 0-0 0, E. Shults 0 0-0 0. Totals 24 17-27 67.

HOLY REDEEMER (61) — Albrecht 6 5-9 17, Boylan 4 2-2 11, Kroptavich 3 5-6 11, Racicky 2 0-0 4, Corridoni 2 0-0 4, Chimock 3 0-0 7, Lombardi 0 0-0 0, Pekarovsky 0 0-0 0, Parsons 3 1-4 7. Totals 23 13-21 61.

Hazleton Area'13'21'15'18 — 67

Holy Redeemer'4'18'22'17 — 61

Three-point goals — HAZ 2 (Bindas, Lagowy); HR 2 (Boylan, Chimock)