KNOX, Pa. – Keystone led the entire contest and used a big second half to take home the D9 Class AA Girls title in a 42-31 win over Brockway.
Keystone took narrow leads after the first and second quarters before breaking the game open in the third period, taking an 11 point lead. The Panthers slowed things down in the fourth but continued to build their lead, stopping any Brockway attempt at a comeback to win the title.
Emily Lauer led the Panthers with 15 points. Jozee Weaver and Natalie Bowser scored 11 points apiece and also provided standout defensive efforts while cleaning up on the boards. Danielle Wood scored 14 points for Brockway. Selena Buttery also contributed 11 points for the Rovers.
The Panthers started the game on the front foot, creating and making open shots to jump out to a 9-4 lead. Bowser was also able to secure key offensive rebounds and score from the line, making a tremendous impact early for Keystone. Brockway found their offensive rhythm midway through the quarter, with Danielle Wood scoring on driving layups and dishing out smooth assists. The Rovers cut Keystone’s lead to 12-10 with just over a minute remaining, and another Bowser layup gave the Panthers a 13-10 advantage after the first quarter.
Keystone burst out to a 5-0 run to begin the second, with Jozee Weaver connecting on a three after a long possession to up the Panthers’ lead to eight. Keystone continued to slow the pace down, holding the ball on offense to draw out the Rovers’ defense. While the approach opened up shot opportunities, Keystone couldn’t knock them down to further build the lead. Fortunately for the Panthers, their defense was airtight, surrendering only one Rovers’ basket through the first six minutes of the quarter. Brockway tightened things back up in the final two minutes of the period, finding their midrange touch to go on a 6-2 run, finishing the half down 20-16.
Keystone’s defense made its impact early in the third, as Keystone managed to grow their lead to eight by scoring in transition after a pair of steels. The Panthers expanded their lead to 10 and looked to be taking control, but Brockway reeled Keystone back in again to cut the deficit to seven with 3:00 to go in the period. The Panthers hit back, scoring the quarter’s final four points to take a 32-21 lead into the final period.
Keystone looked to take the air out of the game in the fourth, slowing down their offense to a crawling pace to run down the clock. The Panthers’ approach worked well, with Keystone scoring the only basket of the quarter’s first three minutes. The Panthers kept their run going, scoring two more buckets to increase their lead to 17 and giving them one hand on the trophy. Brockway cut the lead to eleven, but the Rovers’ comeback bid came up short as Keystone secured the title with a 42-31 victory.
An Interview With Jozee Weaver
Keystone will open the PIAA playoffs on Tuesday by hosting District 5 champion Windber at 6:00 pm.