By Scott Shindledecker
ST. MARYS — The Port Allegany girls basketball team punched its second straight ticket to the state playoffs with a 66-31 win over Smethport in the District 9 Class A quarterfinals Friday night at St. Marys Area High School.
The Lady Gators (22-0) routed the Lady Hubbers (14-10) for the fourth time this season. Their first three wins were by 34, 28 and 45 points.
Although Smethport entered the contest on a nine-game winning streak, it didn’t take long for the Lady Gators to assert themselves.
After Smethport’s Morgan Okerlund hit two free throws with 4:18 left in the first quarter to make it 4-4, the Lady Gators went on a 7-0 run in the next 2:06.
Brooke Roys hit one of two free throws then scored on a putback to get things rolling.
Port followed that with back-to-back steals and layups by Krista Miller and Becca Lathrop to make it 11-4.
Lathrop made it a nine-point lead, 15-6, at the end of one with a steal and layup with three seconds left.
Steals came often for Port Allegany as the Lady Gators forced 15 Smethport turnovers in the first quarter alone. Smethport had six more in the second and finished with 32.
“We think with our speed that we didn’t want to let up with our defensive pressure, despite a few early fouls,” Port head coach Kristina Francis said. “They have certainly improved since the last time we played them, but we believed our pressure would cause them problems.”
The Lady Gators started to shoot the ball better in the second quarter and that was bad news for Smethport.
A 14-3 run by Port in the first 3:46 made it a runaway for the Lady Gators as they led 29-9.
With the score 20-9, Shania Jones hit a 3-pointer at the 6:26 mark, then Delacour stole a pass and scored to make it 25-9. Roys hit one of two free throws, then Somer Buchsenshutz hit a 3-pointer to make it 29-9.
Autumn Buchsenshutz gave Port the last word of the second as she hit a 3 to make it 33-17 at halftime.
The Lady Gators started the third quarter strong with an 11-2 run in 2:20 to make it 44-19 with 5:40 left.
Roys led the charge as she scored two baskets, one a three-point play and also blocked a shot that led to a free throw opportunity as McKenna Johnson hit both to make it 42-19.
Delacour then scored on a drive to the basket to make it 44-19.
That led to Lady Hubbers veteran head coach Eric Lutz calling timeout.
“We just couldn’t handle their pressure and that was the biggest thing,” Lutz said. “They are very good and their guards are very disruptive.
“But I told our girls that they should be proud for getting to this point. We were 5-9 at one point before we put together the win streak. We don’t have any seniors, a good junior class and some sophomores and freshmen, so we hope to build off this season and come back better next year.”
Three Lady Hubbers, Morgan Okerlund, Molly Lord and Addison Gross-Benjamin, each scored seven points.
For Port, Delacour and Roys each had big third quarters and both scored 16 to lead the Lady Gators. Delacour scored 12 in the third and Roys seven. Roys was dominant inside with good rebounding and a number of blocked shots.
“Brooke really had a great night inside and she did it on both ends. She has really grown this season,” Francis said.
Port nearly had two others reach double digits as Lathrop scored nine and Johnson had eight.
The Lady Gators will take on defending District 9 Class A champion Clarion in the semifinals next week. Clarion beat Elk County Catholic, 67-40.
PORT ALLEGANY 66, SMETHPORT 31
Score by Quarters
Smethport 6 11 4 10 – 31
Port Allegany 15 18 23 10 – 66
Smethport – 31
Morgan Okerlund 2 3-3 7, Molly Lord 1 4-4 7, Katie Treat 1 3-4 5, Kiyah Taggart 1 1-2 3, Laura Alfieri 0 0-0 0, Addison Gross-Benjamin 2 2-3 7, Rachel Duffy 1 0-0 2, Emma Stratton 0 0-0 0, Brittany Szarowicz 0 0-0 0. Totals: 8 13-16 31.
Port Allegany – 66
Becca Lathrop 3 3-4 9, Brooke Roys 6 4-6 16, Lynae Delacour 7 0-0 16 , Krista Miller 1 0-2 2, McKenna Johnson 3 2-2 8, Shania Jones 2 0-0 5, Autumn Buchsenshutz 2 0-0 4, Sommer Buchsenshutz 2 0-0 6, Sam Metzger 0 0-0 0, Kendra Pelchy 0 0-0 0. Totals: 26 9-12 66.
Three-pointers: Smethport 2 (Lord, Gross-Benjamin); Port Allegany 5 (Delacour 2, S. Buchsenshutz 2, Jones).