Girls put on a special show in hoops drama
Paul Sokoloski Opinion - Times Leader

By the end, all the heart-pounding pressure building toward a fantastic overtime finish broke Nanticoke Area’s heart just as Holy Redeemer was breaking into a sigh of relief.
This is what games in sports are supposed to be about.
One team loses and one team wins, but neither ever gives up or gives in.
And both teams get better through an experience that provides an incredible test of willpower.
It might not feel that way to Nanticoke Area today, after its upset bid and its season ended in devastating fashion Saturday with an agonizing District 2 girls playoff defeat. And Holy Redeemer might not mark its 60-54 victory as a turning point as it continues on in the Class 3A district playoffs this week.
But you don’t build character through blowout victories or by getting buried under an avalanche at both ends of the floor.
The truest makeup of moral fiber comes out in a back-and-forth battle with the season on the line.
Losing it should feel bitter, and winning it should mean a special memory.
“At the end of it, you just have so much adrenaline pumping,” Holy Redeemer forward Nikki Maximowicz said. “And you still want to play.”
A very different emotion was pumping down the tear-streaked faces of Nanticoke Area’s players.
“It was a tough loss,” said Trojanettes coach Alan Yendrzeiwski, whose whole starting lineup returns next season.
It was a tough game, because Nanticoke Area made it that way.
Two-time defending District 2 champ Redeemer threatened to run away with the show, taking a 26-17 lead at halftime and increasing that advantage to 11 points by scoring the first bucket of the second half.
“After the second quarter, I thought we were in a good place,” Royals scoring star Olivia Francisco said.
Court overflows with spunk, spirit
But the much smaller Trojans played like the little engine that could, diving for loose balls, swarming for steals, skinning their knees and trimming their deficit through desire and determination.
“We were undersized in every game we played this year,” said Yendrzeiwski, whose tallest players stand 5-foot-9 and couldn’t match up with Redeemer’s baseline forest featuring 6-foot Sydney Myers and 5-11 Maximowicz.
“It doesn’t take away from the effort of our girls,” Yendrzeiwski continued. “Or the heart we played with.”
Suddenly, hearts were pounding all over Wyoming Area’s gym.
Teresa Kalinay’s three-point goal pulled the Trojans within 41-38 with 5:21 to play. A basket by Kayley Schinski cut Redeemer’s lead to a single point. And Brittany Sugalski’s put-back with 3:03 on the clock gave the Trojans their first lead, 44-43.
“We took their knockout punch, weathered it, and came all the way back,” Yendrzeiwski said.
But the Royals never stopped punching.
You want to talk about spunk and spirit?
Holy Redeemer showed just as much as scrappy Nanticoke Area.
The Royals didn’t back down when the tide of momentum turned, instead meeting the ominous wave head-on down the stretch behind a jumper and three-pointer from Francisco and a basket by Maximowicz – when each of those baskets regained Redeemer’s lead.
“We just all got together,” Francisco said, “and said, ‘We have to come ready for this, show our heart.’ ”
Both teams wore their hearts on their sleeves. Because of that, one rejoiced while the other’s was broken.
Paul Sokoloski is a Times Leader sports columnist. You may reach him at 970-7109 or email him at psokoloski@timesleader.com.

Coaches Name 2011 All-Stars
Times Leader

The Division III first-team includes Nikki Sutliff (Lake-Lehman), Teresa Kalinay (Nanticoke Area), Lauren Skudalski (Wyoming Seminary), Danielle Tuzinski (Hanover Area) and Michelle Bugownowicz (Hanover Area).
Division III second-team: Sammy Gow (Nanticoke Area), Kristen Baker (Lake-Lehman), Quiterritus Gross (GAR), Maureen Lisman (Meyers), Ann Romanowski (Wyoming Seminary).
Division III third-team: Brittany Sugalski (Nanticoke Area), Alivia Womelsdorf (Northwest Area), Troy Lynn Lewis (Meyers), Kayla Hennigan (Northwest Area), Kayley Schinski (Nanticoke Area).
Division III Honorable mention: Quinniea Gross (GAR), Taylor Mazonkey (Northwest Area), Katie Wolfe (Nanticoke Area), Christine Knooren (Meyers), Jazma Robertson (Meyers), Alexa Decker (Lake-Lehman), Brittany Purcell (MMI), Amanda Howley (Northwest Area).

Girls Basketball Capsule from Times Leader
Times Leader

Coach: Alan Yendrzeiwski

Last year: 18-10

Key players lost: Jenn Harnischfeger

Players to watch: Kayley Schinski, So.; Teresa Kalinay, Jr.; Samantha Gow, Jr.; Katie Wolfe, Jr.; Clarissa Tarnowski, Sr.; Brittany Sugalski, So.

Outlook: Despite the loss of all-everything Harnischfeger, the Trojanettes have a wealth of talent and experience, including four returning starters. Schinski, a 5-9 guard, is one of the best athletes in the WVC, and could be destined for stardom. “She can be real disrupting on defense,” Yendrzewwski said. “We need her to score.” Scoring is not a problem for Kalinay, a 5-6 shooting guard with tremendous range. Gow is the floor leader, handling point guard. The 5-9 Wolfe is a force in the middle, and is a fierce rebounder. Tarnowski is a dangerous streak shooter. Nanticoke should challenge Lake-Lehman for the division crown.