SUNBURY — A few eyebrows were raised when Harrisburg Christian took the court against Lourdes Regional prior to Saturday’s PIAA Class A first round matchup with Lourdes Regional at the Shikellamy Field House in Sunbury.
That’s because the Lady Knights arrived with only five players dressed.
Despite facing the crippling challenges that such a roster size poses, Harrisburg Christian played a solid, low-turnover game but eventually fell to the Red Raiders 56-32.
Lourdes turned the ball over on its opening possession but shrugged it off and opened the game with an 8-2 run with field goals by Lilly Bickel, Frances Czeponis, Jessica Milewski and Mary Komara.
Jenna McKenzie broke the run with a 3-pointer for the Knights to lessen the gap to 8-5, but Lourdes continued to slowly dismantle the defense with effective cuts to the basket.
McKenzie opened the second quarter with a beautiful steal that led to an easy layup to bring the score to 17-11 before the Red Raiders went on an 11-0 run that contributed to a 36-18 halftime score.
Lourdes’ Selina Albert, who ended the game with 11 points and 10 rebounds, hit back-to-back threes during the crucial run. Albert shot 2-for-4 from beyond the arc and 50 percent from the field.
The Knights, who opened with a decent shooting performance at 38 percent in the first half, dropped off to 18 percent in the final two quarters as fatigue began to set in with no substitutes available.
Nevertheless, Harrisburg Christian managed a 7-0 run to open the fourth quarter that prompted Klembara to call a timeout, voice his displeasure at the team’s performance, and bench his starters for the remainder of the game.
Klembara said he felt his team went onto the court expecting a 30-point win and played without intensity for a big portion of the game, especially the second half.
“We executed at times, but too infrequently,” Klembara said. “I was very, very disappointed on the number of second shots they got, even after rebounds or after foul shots. They deserve an awful lot of credit — only have five girls playing and they played their hearts out.”
The Lourdes head coach said it’s a constant struggle to keep his team motivated after moving from the Schuylkill League regular season, which is fiercely competitive, to the coincidentally much easier district playoffs.
“We need to keep that intensity up and it’s always a problem for us each year,” he said. “We’re going to work on it and it won’t happen again for next game.”
Lourdes will face rival Sullivan County in the second round of the tournament on Wednesday at a time and place to be determined.
The Red Raiders met the Griffins twice during the season and won both times. Klembara said the team is very talented and he’s taking nothing for granted.
“Like they say in the NFL, it’s very tough to beat a team three times,” he said. “They have talent and we’re going to need to come out with more intensity than we did today.”
Lourdes Regioanl 56, Harrisburg Christian 32
HARRISBURG CHRISTIAN (32): Anna Cardillo 3 3-7 9, Samantha Dyer 1 1-2 3, Jenna McKenzie 5 4-7 16, Ella Spicher 0 0-0 0, Katie Gesswein 2 0-0 4.
LOURDES REGIONAL (56): Selina Albert 4 1-2 11, Lilly Bickel 6 0-0 12, Frances Czeponis 4 0-0 8, Jessica Milewski 1 4-6 7, Sierra Coleman 1 2-2 5, Mary Komara 1 0-0 2, Kaitlyn Sandri 2 0-0 5, Merle Czeponis 1 0-0 2, Emma Shimko 0 2-2 2, Allie Albert 1 0-0 3.
HC (14-5) 9 9 4 10 — 32
OLOL (17-9) 17 19 9 11 — 56
3-point shooting: Lourdes (5-9) — S. Albert 2-4, F. Czeponis 0-1, S. Coleman 1-1, M. Komara 0-1, K. Sandri 1-1, A. Albert 1-1. Harrisburg Christian (2-19) — A. Cardillo 0-6, J. McKenzie 2-12, K. Gesswein 0-1.