For a second straight year, Honesdale's girls varsity basketball team has sealed the deal on a berth in the PIAA state tournament.
On Wednesday night at Pittston Area High School, the Lady Hornets rallied from an early deficit to defeat Holy Redeemer in the District Two semifinals.
This 56-53 victory propels the local lasses into the Class AAA championship game.
Coach Tracy Ludwig's squad will be looking for a measure of revenge when they take on Scranton Prep this weekend. The first time these two teams met, Prep held on for a razor-thin 49-46 decision.
The Classics punched their ticket to the title tilt via a 58-40 rout of Pittston Wednesday evening.
Weather permitting, this much-anticipated re-match is scheduled for a 2:30 p.m. opening tip Saturday at Carbondale Area.
Holy Redeemer entered the District Two fray with the bracket's #2 seed and an impressive 19-3 record.
The Royals went 12-1 in the Wyoming Valley Conference en route to the Division Two title, then posted back-to-back wins over Berwick and Abington to earn a date with Honesdale.
On Wednesday night, Redeemer came out with both guns blazing. Thanks in large part to a trio of talented players, the Royals raced out to 21-13 lead after one quarter.
Alexis Lewis, Alana Wilson and Alyssa Platko took turns terrorizing Honesdale's zone defense. A versatile sophomore who can score from the perimeter, in the paint or on the fastbreak, Lewis tickled the twine for a team-best 19 points.
Another member of a talented sophomore class, Wilson contributed 14 to the cause, while Platko chipped in with 13.
The Lady Hornets re-grouped and began whittling away at Redeemer's lead in the second period.
Page 2 of 2 - Katie Miller paced the Red & Black offensive attack. The sophomore sniper buried a pair of treys but also scored from the field and at the line in finishing up with 19 points.
Morgan Birmelin also turned in key plays for Honesdale. After being held scoreless in a quarterfinal win over Dallas, Birmelin got right back on track. She dialed up three deep treys on her way to a 13-point effort.
Defensively, Coach Ludwig varied her squad's sets with various zone and man looks. The Lady Hornets' non-stop hustle, relentlessness and intensity began taking a tangible toll on the young Royals.
In fact, Redeemer's offensive output would decrease with each passing period as Honesdale methodically took control.
Honesdale trailed 34-28 at intermission, but surged ahead thanks to an 18-10 third quarter run.
Mary Martin asserted herself more and more as the evening progressed. A tough-as-nails senior guard who is a legitimate MVP candidate, Martin slashed her way to 11 points, six rebounds and three steals.
Natasha Hessling also contributed crucial buckets and boards. Honesdale's sophomore center was coming off a career-high 30-point explosion against Dallas. She was held to just six by Redeemer, but one of those baskets gave the Lady Hornets a 38-36 lead midway through the third period.
Senior forward Kate Pfeil and freshman guard Taylor Parenti came off the Red & Black bench to tally two and five points, respectively.
Score by Quarters...
HON (22-3) 13 15 18 10 - 56
HR (19-4) 21 13 10 9 - 53