Freshmen Lead Holy Cross Past Northwest, To D-2 Final
DUNMORE — There were parts of the first half Holy Cross coach Barry Fitzgerald said he could barely watch.
His secopnd-seedede Lady Crusaders forced 21 Northwest Area turnovers, yet scored just six points off those and were clinging to a nine-point halftime cushion.
Freshmen Kaci Kranson and Julia Goetz made things a lot easier for the Lady Crusaders in the second half.
Kranson finished with a career-high 30 points, and had 10 rebounds and seven steals, and Goetz came off the bench to add six points, six rebounds, four steals and a pair of assists to send Hop;y Cropss into Friday’s District 2 championship game with a state playoff-berth securing 50-25 win in Friday’s semifinal at Dunmore High School.
“Kaci is so athletic that at some point, when the day happens, and hopefully tonight was the night, look out,” Fitzgerald said.
Kranson scored 19 of her 30 in the second half when Holy Cross finally pulled away, using a game-closing 14-0 run to seal the victory.
“I couldn’t have done it without my teammates,” said Kranson, who made 11 of 16 field goals, mostly in transition. “They made great passes. They are so encouraging at practice and they help me out.
“I think they were all just good passes to me. They were all just leading me to the basket. It was great.”
Haley Bestrycki, who had four assists, and Goetz found Kranson with terrific looks in the final two minutes of the third quarter to helpd break open a game that Northwest had closed to six points early in the third on Brenna Babcock’s lone of the game. She finisahed with 10 points, six beklow her season average, before fouling out with 5 minutes to play.
“Ugly first half,” Fitzgerald said. “It was very difficult to watch. They are somewhat challenged offensively, so the goal is to take (Brenna) Babcock out of the game. First half, we did that, but so many turnovers, so many opportunities and no points out of it, no shots out of it. Too many uncharacteristic things.
“We took away their one scorer. She really didn’t get to the basket much and that’s her game. We took that away from her and there we are sitting with a nine-point lead.”
Northwest finished with 34 turnovers, and in the second half, Holy Cross — Kranson in particular — made the Rangers pay.
“We’ve worked on it and worked in it and we’ve just been in a funk of making lazy passes, turning the ball over and not being aggressive,” Northwest coach Scott Miner said. “Every time she moved they had somebody else to double her. They doubled her when they played man early, and when they went to that zone they matched with her and any time she came off any kind of screens or cuts, as soon as she put it on the floor, they doubled her and took her pretty much out of the game.”
And the freshmen led a late surge that pushed the lead to 34-20 late in the third.
“I’m just pretty comfortable now,” said Goetz, who did most of her damage in the second half, too. “My teammates just try to keep me pumped up. If I make one mistake they just keep you up. I was a little nervous in the beginning when I first started to play. Now it’s more comfortable, more relaxed.”
Cassidy Crawford’s layup tightened the gap to 36-25 with 7 minutes remaining, but Babcock picked up her fourth and fifth fouls a minute apart, and with their best option gone, Northwest didn’t score again as Kranson accounted for 10 of the game’s last 14 points.
“Kaci can get to the basket pretty much when she wants,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s a matter of finishing, but she’s getting there. “And Julia gave us great minutes, and we needed them because we had some upperclassmen struggle tonight.
“Rebounding, she scored for us, she ran down a couple loose balls for us. I had to keep her in there. I couldn’t take her out. She forced me to to keep her in there. She just gave us some really good minutes. when we needed them.”
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Northwest (14-10) — B. Babcock 4 1-2 10, T. Edwards 3 0-1 6, M. McLendon 2 0-0 4, K. Yaple 1 0-0 3, C. Crawford 1 0-0 2, K. Saxton 0 0-0 0, R. Harrison 0 0-0 0, T. Babcock 0 0-0 0, L. Thomas 0 0-0 0. Totals: 11 1-3 25.
Holy Cross (16-8) — K. Kranson 11 8-17 30, A. Sempa 2 3-6 8, J. Goetz 3 0-2 6, A. Lentowski 1 0-0 2, C. Kranick 0 2-4 2, H. Bestrycki 0 2-4 2, G. Calciano 0 0-0 0, A. Capone 0 0-0 0, K. Kovaleski 0 0-0 0, E. McGee 0 0-0 0, E. Ferguson 0 0-0 0. Totals: 17 15-33 50.
Northwest 8 1 14 2—25
Holy Cross 7 11 16 16—50
3-point goals: B. Babcock (NW) 1, K. Yaple (NW) 1, A. Sempa (HC) 1.