GREENSBURG, Pa. – A-C Valley’s dreams of PIAA glory came to an end Friday night with a 59-36, not as bad as the score indicates, loss to Everett at Hempfield High School.
(Photo by Cynthia Cullen Rapp)
“Nothing is easy at this level,” Lady Falcons’ head coach Dave Sherman said. “You have to work for everything at this level. This is big time. You get this far, it’s big time. I told the girls, you made it to the big time, now you saw what it was like.”
A-C Valley (22-5) didn’t really have an answer for Everett leading scorer Kaitlyn Maxwell, who came into the game averaging 24.0 points per game.
Maxwell scored 10 first-quarter points and 26 in the game.
“She is legit,” Sherman said. “She is a good athlete. I know she won some state medals (in track and field) last year as a sophomore. You can see why. She is a good athlete. She didn’t show up on film like that, though. But she is still good.”
When Maxwell wasn’t scoring in the first quarter, she was finding Brooke Colledge open for a pair of opening-period 3-pointers that helped Everett build an 18-11 lead after eight minutes.
“They were finding some open people,” Sherman said. “They knocked down a few shots that got them up a little bit. We just didn’t rotate as quickly as we needed to.”
Up seven going to the second quarter, Everett used a 15-4 run in the quarter fueled by 3-pointers from Kristen Ewing and Gabby Bulger to build a 33-19 halftime lead.
“They are a good team,” Sherman said. “They have a good squad. That is why they are here.”
Down 14 at halftime, A-C Valley did what it has down so many times over the past couple of season – the Lady Falcons rallied.
After Elizabeth Jay jumped the Warriors lead to 16, 35-19, on an offensive putback early in the second half, A-C Valley went on a 13-4 run that saw Rachel Cullen hit a 3-pointer and Andrea Meals add four points to cut the deficit to seven, 39-32, on a Meals jumper with 32.8 seconds left in the third quarter.
“I put is in the four low with one girl out and it started working,” Sherman said. “We made a little adjustment at halftime, and we fought back. We got back within seven. That is the kind of girls they are. They are not just going to pack it in and go home. They are here to play.”
Colledge, who scored 11 while hitting three 3-pointers, stopped the A-C Valley momentum when she hit a 3-pointer just before the third-quarter horn to put Everett up 10, 42-32, going to the fourth.
The Lady Falcons were still within 10, 44-34, following a Kylee Eaton basket 6:21 into the fourth, but any hopes of a comeback went away when Olivia Boocks was called for two fouls in a span of about 30 seconds that had Sherman and the A-C Valley faithful upset and for good reason.
The first was a charge called on Boocks as she drove the baseline when the Everett player clearly jumped out of the way of Boocks before contact was made. But instead of shooting two, Boocks was whistled for her fourth foul.
“That was horrible,” Sherman said.
Then moments later Boocks was called for fouling Maxwell. The problem was, Boocks didn’t foul her. Cullen did. But the official got the number wrong, the A-C Valley senior and KSAC MVP was disqualified on her fifth with 4:28 to play and the Lady Falcons now down 14 thanks to the two Maxwell free throws, 48-34.
“Liv’s fifth foul was not a foul on her,” Sherman said. “She was even in the play. They (the officials) wouldn’t change it. They wouldn’t check it. It was on Rachel Cullen. Liv wasn’t even chasing (Maxwell) anymore. We had Rachel Cullen chasing her and Liv playing the top of the diamond.”
Sherman tried to get the officials to discuss the call, but instead of worrying about whether the call was on the proper player, the official was more interested that Sherman was a half a foot out of the coach’s box.
“They kept telling me to get in the box and get off the floor,” Sherman said. “I’m trying to talk to my players and you guys are terrible, so what am I supposed to do?”
With Boocks on the bench, things fell completely apart of A-C Valley with Everett going on a game-ending 12-2 run to make the final score look worse than it was.
“(Boocks) keeps everything moving,” Sherman said. “Cami (McNany) had to move over to control and run the offense. She is capable, but it changes the dynamic of what we are trying to do.”
Sherman, while making sure to stress that he didn’t think it would have made a difference, wasn’t happy with the way the game was called. Everett, which was a jump-shooting team without a strong inside presence, shot 20 free throws to A-C Valley’s seven despite the Lady Falcons were a team that likes to go to the basket.
“They were flat out hugging our girls,” Sherman said. “We couldn’t even move. They were holding our girls, plain and simple. But they wouldn’t call it. I don’t know if that would have made a huge difference. Once we adjusted to it, we did well against it.”
The loss brings an end of an era of sorts that included this year’s seniors as well as last year’s seniors – Ellie Thompson and Allison Sherman – who took A-C Valley girls’ basketball to places never seen before. Prior to a year ago, the Lady Falcons had never won a PIAA playoff game. But this group went 43-11 over the last two season with three PIAA victories and two District 9 runner-up spots – one in Class 1A and one in Class 2A.
“We set the bar high last year, and here we go again this year,” Sherman said. “We may never get back here, so enjoy it while we are. This is their moment in the sun, in the spotlight. I told them you have the whole community (behind you), fire trucks escorting you. We had the whole elementary standing on the driveway screaming and with signs. It was fantastic. It really pulled the community together. You have people excited about A-C Valley girls’ basketball like no one has been excited about a sport at our school in decades. That’s an accomplishment in of itself. It’s fantastic.”
Sherman credited the players for all of the success.
“I have been blessed with an extremely talented group of girls the last two years,” Sherman said. “These girls got in the gym and they played AAU. They showed a lot of talent, a lot of promise (when they were younger)/ They just flourished and put the time in and developed their skills. They have really put a lot of work into being athletes, being multi-talented athletes. I have three girls who are playing in college next year.”
Everett (24-3) will play West Middlesex in the semifinals Monday, March 18, at a site and time to be announced.
EVERETT 59, A-C VALLEY 36
Score by Quarters
Everett 18 15 9 17 – 59
A-C Valley 11 8 13 4 – 36
EVERETT – 59
Elizabeth Jay 1 0-0 2, Brooke Colledge 4 0-0 11, Kristen Ewing 1 2-4 5, Annie Nave 0 0-0 0, Gabby Bulger 1 1-2 4, Madison Hicks 3 2-2 8, Kaitlyn Maxwell 10 6-10 26, Laine Treece 0 0-0 0, Ashlyn Hicks 0 0-0 0, Alex Iseminger 0 0-2 0, Lilly Mills 1 0-0 3. Totals 21 11-20 59.
A-C VALLEY – 36
Cami McNany 3 2-2 8, Rachel Cullen 2 0-1 5, Mia Sherman 0 0-0 0, Emily Wetzel 1 0-0 2, Andrea Means 1 2-2 4, Olivia Boocks 3 0-0 8, Kylee Eaton 4 1-2 9, Meah Ielase 0 0-0 0, Samantha Redmond 0 0-0 0, Rylee Bowser 0 0-0 0, Paige Klinger 0 0-0 0, Baylee Blauser 0 0-0 0. Totals 14 5-7 36.
Three-pointers: Everett 6 (Colledge 3, Ewing, Bulger, Mills). A-C Valley 3 (Boocks 2, Cullen).