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 BY JEFF FALK

 SCRANTON –  Select one.

 The Elco girls’ basketball season has been:

 A.  An inspired extension of the fall soccer season.

B. One of the most memorable in the history of the program.

 C.  An opportunity for a collection of outstanding student-athletes to come together to foster team work, lifelong friendships and lessons that can’t be taught in the class room.

 D. All of the above.

On Saturday evening at Marywood University, the Raiders registered one of their most complete and meaningful victories of the season, a 48-39 triumph over Scranton Prep, in the opening round of the PIAA Class AAAA playoffs. Elco traded punches with the previously once-beaten Classics throughout, then hit them with a crippling run early in the final quarter.

 The result was Elco’s first state playoff win since 1998, in the Raiders’ first state playoff appearance since 2003. The fourth-place finisher out of District Three, Elco, now 22-7 overall, advanced to Wednesday’s second round of the PIAA Class AAAA postseason, against District Four runner-up Danville, at a site and time to be announced.

  Scranton Prep, the District Two champions, concluded its season at 24-2.

  “It’s about the time they have together,” said Elco head coach Ashli Shay, about the motivation driving her troops right now. “They have really become a family. The culture has changed so much over the last two years. It’s hard to describe. When I see them together, it makes me so happy. We don’t want it to end. It’s so special we want to keep it going.

 “It’s about the time together and the experience,” continued Shay.”A lot of them have qualified for a state playoff game before. The send-off we had at school was incredible. We want them to enjoy the experience. From this moment on, it’s about the experience. We’re really proud of them.”

 With the outcome hanging in the balance two minutes into the fourth quarter, it was the Raiders who stepped up.

 The score was knotted at 33, when Elco held Scranton Prep without a point over the next 4:35. The Raiders’ resulting 10-0 run, which included points from five different scorers – Amanda Smith, Ryelle Shuey, Julia Nelson, Kailey Eckhart and Jordan Rosengrant – gave them a 43-33 lead, with 1:37 remaining.

 “We got ‘stops’ and rebounds at the right time,” said Shay. “Our goal was to keep them in the 30s . They average in the 50s. I’ll always go back to our rebounds and defense. We also hit some big shots. Everything kind of fell into place.

 “Any time you beat a higher seed and you go into their territory, I think it’s an upset,” continued Shay. “We knew we had our hands full and our work cut out for us.”

 For all intents and purposes, the two sides traded baskets during the third quarter, and Elco exited the period with the same four-point lead it entered it with. 

 Back-to-back baskets from Smith and Rueppel gave the Raiders a 26-23 advantage. Then a jumper by Smith and a free throw by Cassie Johnson made it 31-27 Elco.

 “Everybody did their jobs,” said Shay. “They played their roles. I don’t feel like we were forced into a tough situation.

 “I had tape from their (the Classics’) five most recent games,” added Shay. “I watched them over the last week. Numbers four (Cecilia Collins) and ten (Rachel Rose) can really score. I thought we if we could force the other three to beat us, we’d have a chance. I thought Ryelle would have an advantage inside. They only lost one game for a reason.”

 Shuey and Smith paced the Raiders’ balanced scoring with 12 points apiece, while Katelyn Rueppel popped for 11 points, some eight more than her season average. Shuey also pulled down an eye-popping 21 caroms.

 The Raiders converted 13 of their 21 free throw attempts. Rose and Collins accounted for 29 of Scranton Prep’s 39 total points.

 “She’s unreal,” said Shay of Shuey. “She truly is. She plays so tough in there. She comes up big in big moments.”

 Elco did not get out to the kind of start it was looking for, and the Classics notched the first eight points of the contest. Rueppel scored the next five points of the game, and it seemed to help the Raiders get their feet beneath them.

 Later in the opening stanza, a Rueppel three-pointer and a pair of Smith baskets added up to a 7-0 Raider run that tied the score at 12.

 “I felt like we were playing on our heels,” said Shay. “We were shooting jump shots. When we settled in, we got it together. I thought we played well the rest of the way. I thought we got mentally and physically tough after that.”

 The Raiders held the Classics without a point for the initial 4:55 of the second quarter, and assumed a 20-14 advantage. During the time, Shuey converted a foul shot and a stick-back, Julia Nelson drained a three-pointer and Eckhart knocked down a jumper.

 “We wanted to face-guard Rose,” said Shay. “We wanted to face-guard Collins. Katelyn Rueppel, Jordan Rosengrant and Cassie Johnson did a fantastic job making them take tough shots. And we did a nice job with help defense.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To purchase images in this article email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com, or to view more go to https://lebanonsportsbuzz.com/photo-gallery/.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2018-19 Elco Girls’ Basketball Season

 
 
Date Opponents Outcomes  
12/07
6:00 pm
Susquehanna Township
Elco
at Middletown Tip-Off Tournament
22
46
 
12/08
7:30 pm
Elco
Middletown
at Middletown Tip-Off Tournament
46
55
 
12/11
7:30 pm
Fleetwood
at Elco
24
34
 
12/14
7:30 pm
Cocalico
at Elco
39
57
 
12/17
7:30 pm
Elco
at Manheim Central
49
33
 
12/19
7:30 pm
Solanco
at Elco
39
40
 
12/21
7:30 pm
Elco
at Lampeter-Strasburg
32
39
 
12/27
4:30 pm
Elco
Pine Grove
at Pine Grove Holiday Tournament
47
30
 
12/28
6:00 pm
Elco
Kennett
at Pine Grove Holiday Tournament
43
36
 
1/04
7:00 pm
Octorara
at Elco
12
75
 
1/08
7:30 pm
Elco
at Donegal
63
59
 
1/11
6:00 pm
Elco
at Northern Lebanon
31
19
 
1/12
2:30 pm
Elco
at Lebanon
51
28
 
1/15
7:30 pm
Elco
at York Catholic
51
46
 
1/18
7:30 pm
Lancaster Catholic
at Elco
68
44
 
1/22
7:00 pm
Elco
at Octorara
68
13
 
1/25
7:30 pm
Donegal
at Elco
59
78
 
1/26
6:30 pm
Elco
at Oley Valley
50
27
 
2/01
7:30 pm
Garden Spot
at Elco
38
54
 
2/02
1:00 pm
Elco
at Northern Lebanon
49
26
 
2/05
7:30 pm
Elco
at Lancaster Catholic
31
67
 
2/07
6:00 pm
Elco
Ephrata
at Garden Spot
61
44
 
2/09
7:00 pm
Elco
at Solanco
55
38
 
2/13
7:30 pm
Elco
Cedar Crest
at Lebanon
36
34
 
2/15
7:00 pm
Lancaster Catholic
Elco
at Manheim Township
66
42
 
2/22
7:00 pm
Eastern York
at Elco
42
46
 
2/26
7:00 pm
Elco
at Lancaster Catholic
24
45
 
2/28
7:00 pm
Elco
at Kennard-Dale
44
58
 
3/09
4:30 pm
Elco
Scranton Prep
at Marywood University
   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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