BY JEFF FALK
ASSUMPTION HILL – Does anticipation have an expiration date or a statute of limitations?
The Lebanon Catholic girls’ basketball team had to wait so long for the District Three Class A postseason that it forgot what it was looking forward to. It took the Beavers exactly eight minutes to remember.
After shrugging off a somewhat sluggish start, Lebanon Catholic blew away Veritas Academy 62-22 in its initial game of the District Three playoffs on Saturday afternoon. From the second quarter on, the Beavers outscored Veritas Academy by an eye-poping 48-8 margin.
Second-seeded Lebanon Catholic, which had last played 17 days prior, moved to 17-6 with the win and into Wednesday’s Class A semifinals, against the winner of the Hershey Christian-High Point match-up, at 6 p.m. at Northern York. The triumph also qualified the perennial District Three power for its first trip to the PIAA tournament in three years.
Veritas Academy, the number-seven seed, finished its year at 14-9.
“It was a little rusty to start, and we thought that might happen,” said Lebanon Catholic head coach Patti Hower. “We missed a lot of easy lay-ups. There were some emotions involved. On our home court, our first district game, a nice crowd.
“We gave them (her players) some days off, and we went back to basics,” Hower continued. “We had some good practices and some not-so-good practices. We had one scrimmage with Warwick, and we had our own game with a clock. But it’s hard to keep a focus. I’m just glad it’s all behind us.”
By shooting the ball well early, Veritas Academy enjoyed a couple of leads in the opening quarter. But a three-pointer from senior leader Stevie Fortna near the end of the session tied the score at 14 and served to send Catholic on its way.
“I thought they (Veritas Academy) played a very good first quarter,” said Hower. “They made some shots that they didn’t make the rest of the game. But I didn’t sense any panic from our girls. They knew they just had to make some easy shots.
“We got into our running game a little,” Hower continued. ‘We got some easy stuff. And we got some good contributions. I thought we played pretty good.”
Using some solid defense to create its offense and receiving eight key bench points from Helene Reist, Lebanon Catholic dominated the second period and carried a 33-18 advantage to the locker room.
“It’s a big game because it qualifies us for states and gets us three more games,” said Hower. “The next one is even more important because it gets us to Giant Center.
“The goal is to win the championship, absoultely,” added Hower. “But you’ve got to get there. Once we do, anyone can win it. I know if we get there we’re going to play hard and do our best.”
Veritas Academy scored the first bucket of the second half, but after that it was ALL Beavers. Lebanon Catholic ran off an amazing 27 unanswered points to establish a 60-20 lead and invoke the mercy rule.
“This is the second District game that we’ve hosted,” said Hower. “The kids like that, when they see a nice crowd. They know there’s fans who are starting to follow us.
“We look forward to the district playoffs,” Hower added. “The last two years, we got knocked out on this day. I thought it was important to get to the next round so the younger players know what it’s like. It lets them know what the excitement is like. We (the coaching staff) know what it’s like.”
The Beavers dynamic backcourt duo of Kate Pastal and Fortna combined to score 35 points.