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Tigers lose heartbreaker 34-33 to end season

Mar. 9—GUYS MILLS — Maplewood's girls basketball team has been through several down to the wire games this season and before Friday's game, they've walked away victorious.

Friday's 34-33 loss to South Side in the first round of the PIAA Class 2A playoffs at Maplewood High School saw the Tigers finish on the wrong side of things. But, Maplewood head coach Shawn Rhoades was impressed with the girls' fight.

The Tigers trailed by six points with 2:43 left to play and they battled back.

"This is the first close game we didn't win. We had opportunities and had some shots, they just didn't fall," Rhoades said. "That's what I told them. I said 'Listen, you could have folded with two minutes to go, down six, especially when they're playin stall ball, but you didn't.'

"They kept fighting and that's what this group's done all year. It's been scrappy. Fortunately we've been on the other end of this all season."

Senior Rhaelynn Koelle caught a pass off an inbound and scored a lay-in with 2:37 on the clock. Junior Madison O'Hara got to the hoop, was fouled, but on her way to the ground got the ball above the rim. The ball hit just about every part of the rim before falling, much to the delight of the home crowd.

O'Hara's made free throw on the and-one opportunity made it a one-point game with about 1:40 left to play.

South Side drained much of the clock, but turned it over with about 17 seconds left. Maplewood then turned it over, forced a turnover themselves, and called a timeout with 5.3 ticks on the clock.

The inbound play did not work, but the Tigers inbounded the ball to the 3-point line. Maplewood was able to get off two shots, but neither fell.

"We were trying to get our low post because they were overplaying it. We got it earlier, but for whatever reason we didn't there and it was a busted up play, but we had chances with a couple different shots," Rhoades said. "I think part of it is there is some inexperience there. It's tough. Basketball isn't easy. You can't just be athletic and have success."

Before South Side's six-point lead midway through the final quarter, the biggest lead of the day was three points. Both teams struggled to score consistently. Physical defense and turnovers paired with poor outside shooting made for a low scoring game.

Maplewood senior Savannah O'Hara picked up a second foul early in the first quarter and was forced to sit for the remainder of the first half. The Tigers committed 21 turnovers to South Side's 11, and yet, the Tigers' defense allowed no more than 12 points in a quarter and just four in the final eight minutes.

"Give credit to South Side. They threw a couple things at us all year we haven't see all year, shockingly, things I would have done if I played against us, and it threw us off a little bit. We got in foul trouble early so that doesn't help," Rhoades said. "But we battled in the second half and we had a chance. I told them we had chances at the end, sometimes they fall and sometimes they don't. Up till this time they have fallen."

Koelle led the Tigers with 13 points. M. O'Hara added eight and Means scored four.

It was the final game for Maplewood senior Madyson Banik, Sheila Despenes, Koelle and S. O'Hara.

"I'm thankful for the seniors. They've put in work and did a good job. Like we told them, best of luck moving forward, that's all you can do. I thank our seniors for their work. It's been fun coaching them for two years," Rhoades said. "We'll get back in the gym for those of us that are coming back and get to work."

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South Side (34)

Stings 6 2-2 15, Tellish 4 4-6 12, Boyd 2 0-2 5, Schrier 1 0-0 2.

13 6-10 34.

Maplewood (33)

Koelle 6 1-2 13, M. O'Hara 3 1-1 8, Means 1 1-2 4, S. O'Hara 1 0-0 2, Banik 1 0-0 2, Frazier 1 0-0 2, Holeva 1 0-0 2.

Totals: 14 3-5 33.

South Side 8 10 12 4 — 34

Maplewood 6 11 10 6 — 33

3-point goals: South Side — Stings, Boyd; Maplewood — Means, M. O'Hara.

Alex Topor can be reached at (814) 724-6370 or by email at atopor@meadvilletribune.com.