ST. MARYS â€“ The Lady Dutch avenged a season-opening loss to Johnsonburg with a 42-33 win Thursday to get them into today's Elk County Holiday Tournament final against unblemished Elk County Catholic.
The Ramettes held an early lead before the Lady Dutch rained a barrage of 3-pointers to take the early advantage. Back-to-back treys from Kiana Hoohuli and Jenna Anderson gave St. Marys the early 6-3 lead; Adair Gennocro, who paced all scorers with 12 points, came through early with a pair of free throws at the six minute mark for an 8-3 lead. Gennocro would later tack on a 3-point play after being fouled on a successful layup try.
Sloan Foster followed suit as she cashed in on her trip to the charity stripe to take a 13-3 lead; Johnsonburg finally broke the 13-point run with a layup from Brittany Watts with 4:13 on the clock. The Ramettes chipped away at the lead with layups from Rhianon Fowler and Watts but DeAnna Yost came back with a jumper with 2:32 to go in the first quarter to increase the lead to six points.
Watts scored on the other end to decrease the deficit but Yost nailed a long 3-pointer with 17 seconds on the board for the early 18-11 lead.
The St. Marys defense stepped up in the second quarter as it allowed one field goal, a short jumper inside the paint from Watts just 58 seconds in the restart.
"Overall I think our defense stepped it up," said St. Marys head girls' varsity basketball coach Leona Hoohuli. "This is the first time we've met with Johnsonburg since we lost to them to open up the season so I'm very happy with that. We've been stressing on defense and we came through."
Not that Johnsonburg didn't have plenty of chances.
The Ramettes were sent to the line six times in the second quarter but came away with just two successful tries in a 4-point second half showing en route to a 25-15 halftime deficit.
"We started out sluggish and Rhianon [Fowler] starting with three fouls early didn't help us," said Johnsonburg head girls varsity basketball coach Mike Zilkofski. "It's not where I pictured we'd be right now at 2-5. I told our players that they have to be more focused.
"Kathryn Polaski came in and did a good job at point guard when Rhianon [Fowler] got in foul trouble but we weren't recognizing the open player and we weren't any good from the foul line. We had probably 20 turnovers in the first half and if we don't have the ball, somebody else will and they're going to score."
A layup from Taylor Schutz gave the Lady Dutch a 20-13 lead before Hoohuli hit a 3-pointer from four feet behind the arc for a 23-13 lead.
"We have a few girls who can shoot the shot from the outside, and they have the opening to shoot when they're open," coach Hoohuli said. "They're selective with their shots, they're not forcing them."
Yost followed with a jumper with 52 seconds to go in the half for a 10-point lead going into the locker room.
With the game still well within reach, lackluster Johnsonburg shooting in the paint ensured a St. Marys victory and another trip to the holiday finals.
"It was combination of foul shots, turnovers and not being focused enough," Zilkofski said. "They have to want it badly enough. I had high hopes starting out the season with a win over St. Marys but they stepped it up and pressured us a lot.
"I told Rhianon [Fowler] that they were going to come up and double-team her so we'd have to get rid of the ball quicker, probably before we even reach halfcourt. We didn't do that and we didn't find the open player."
The Ramettes opened up the third quarter with a jumper just inside the 3-point line from Kiana Myers and Chelsea Benson followed with a layup to cut the lead to 25-19 but Johnsonburg couldn't get any closer.
Becky Krieg's short shot in the paint found the net and Gennocro followed with a trey for a 30-19 advantage. Benson was later fouled on the other end but made only one of her tries. A turnover and subsequent layup from Benson sent her to the line for a possible 3-point play but she missed the shot, facing a 9-point deficit.
After a miss on the other end, Danie Jo Dwyer threw up a 3-pointer for a 6-point margin and after getting the ball back, Watts was fouled and sent to the line, only to miss both tries.
"Missing foul shots hurt us," Zilkofski said.
St. Marys regrouped with a layup from Schutz with 35 seconds on the clock in the third quarter for an 8-point lead.
In the fourth quarter, Hoohuli was sent to the line early but came away with one shot for a 34-25 lead. Benson hit a layup on the other end with 5:37 to play to cut the lead to seven points. After a Lady Dutch turnover, Benson was fouled under the hoop but failed to make either of her attempts.
Hoohuli was fouled on the other end and made one shot for a 35-27 lead before the turnover bug bit hard, leading to consecutive layups for St. Marys by Rachel Krieg and Gennocro for a 12-point advantage late in the fourth quarter.
The Ramettes finished with five trips to the free throw line down the stretch and converted four of five shots. Dwyer put a shot in with seven seconds on the board in the 42-33 loss.
"I'm disappointed with where we're at at this point in the season and we turn the ball over at the wrong time in games, times where we should be coming back and making a basket to add some pressure, but we turn the ball over and they hit a 3-pointer on the other end," Zilkofski said. "To fix it, we have to practice more and they have to want it badly enough."
St. Marys â€“ 42
Adair Gennocro 3 5-7 12, Kiana Hoohuli 2 2-4 8, DeAnna Yost 3 0-0 7, Jenna Anderson 1 1-2 4, Taylor Schutz 2 0-0 4, Sloan Foster 0 2-2 2, Becky Krieg 1 0-0 2, Rachel Krieg 1 0-0 2, Abbey Cribbs 0 1-4 1. Totals: 13 11-19 42.
Johnsonburg â€“ 33
Chelsea Benson 4 1-5 9, Brittany Watts 4 1-5 9, Danie Jo Dwyer 2 3-4 8, Rhianon Fowler 1 0-0 2, Kassa Kocjancic 0 2-2 2, Kiana Myers 1 0-1 2, Kathryn Polaski 0 1-3 1. Totals: 12 8-20 33.
3-point field goals: St. Marys 5 (Hoohuli 2, Anderson, Gennocro, Yost.) Johnsonburg 1 (Dwyer).
Score by quarters
St. Marys 18 7 8 9 42
Johnsonburg 11 4 10 8 33