GIRLS BASKETBALL: Steffen Helps Wallenpaupack Girls Clinch Division
S. CANAAN TWP. — For most of the season, Wallenpaupack’s offense centered around its guards.
But with the Lackawanna League Division II title hanging in the balance, senior post player Rietta Steffen delivered the game of a lifetime. And she can thank her brothers for their help.
Steffen dominated the boards with 16 rebounds — 10 offensive, and added three blocks and six points to lead
No. 9 Wallenpaupack to a title-clinching 42-22 win over No. 10 Western Wayne at Varden Garden.
“Just playing basketball in the driveway with my brothers and trying to outhustle them has helped me a lot in trying to find out where to get the ball,” said Steffen, who didn’t know if that was a career best because she doesn’t track her own stats. “Honestly you just have to map it out on the court. See where the ball goes up and where you think it’s going to come down.”
Mostly, that was in her hands, as Steffen’s 10 offensive boards led to numerous second-chance points. But she wasn’t alone helping Wallenpaupack to back-to-back division crowns.
Rachael Tirjan scored
12 and had three assists, Hannah Smith added
10 points, seven rebounds and three steals, and Devon Kiesendahl added eight points and eight rebounds.
And defensively, the Lady Buckhorns limited Western Wayne to 8-of-53 shooting.
“It was just a team effort tonight,” Smith said. “Probably one of the best of the year. We passed the ball really well and our defense was great.
“Megan (Guerrieri) and Rachael both face-guarded their best two and the rest of us worked hard in the triangle to keep the ball from inside.”
In the first half, Western Wayne made just three shots, two of them first-quarter 3s from Kathy Shepherd. But even the open looks wouldn’t fall for Western Wayne.
“I’d like to think that between Megan, Devon and Rachael, they had something to do with that,” Wallenpaupack coach Roy Gibbs said. “The game plan was executed very well.
“We got on the boards and the whole premise was once the ball got out of (Gracie) Guarino and (Kaeli) Romanowski’s hands, deny the ball getting back in their hands. Gracie and Kaeli are two of the better players in this entire league, and they deserve the attention we tried to put on them tonight.”
Wallenpaupack didn’t struggle, erasing a 2-0 lead with 11 straight, four by Steffen, whose six points nearly doubled her scoring average.
“She really stepped up as far as having an inside presence,” Western Wayne coach Natalie Winters said. “Ten offensive rebounds, and that’s something we stressed to our girls before the game and at halftime. A lot of their points are coming off second and third opportunities at the basket.”
Others just came on sheer effort, like Smith’s second-quarter effort to break loose a rebound, wrestle it away from a Western Wayne player on the floor, then have the presence to find Kiesendahl for an outlet.
From there, the ball rotated to Guerrieri for a drive and soft floater off the glass to make it 23-9.
“We knew what had to be done in this game and we were willing to do anything to get the win,” Tirjan said. “Our team, day in and day out, worked hard for this.”
Tirjan stuck a 3 to end the half and another early in the third as the margin kept growing, expanding to 42-16 as Smith ended the third with a 3 from Kiesendahl and started the fourth with Wallenpaupack’s final points.
“Rietta did a great job, but one of the things I’m especially pleased with, they moved the ball well and they were unselfish,” Gibbs said. “Whoever was open took the shot. That was very pleasing to see.”
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Wallenpaupack (15-7, 9-4) — R. Tirjan 4-12 2-2 12, H. Smith 4-11 0-0 10, D. Kiesendahl 4-11 0-0 8, M. Guerrieri 3-9 0-0 6, R. Steffen 3-8 0-0 6, M. Desmet 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 18-51 2-2 42.
Western Wayne (13-8, 5-7) — K. Romanowski 2-13 2-5 6, K. Shepherd 2-8 0-0 6, G. Guarino 2-15 0-0 4, C. Swoyer 1-7 2-2 4, C. Asinski 1-7 0-0 2, P. Barillo 0-0 0-0 0, A. Fenwick 0-3 0-0 0. Totals: 8-53 4-7 20.
Wallenpaupack 15 11 14 2 — 42
Western Wayne 9 1 6 6 — 22
3-point shooting: WAL 4-12 (Smith 2-4, Tirjan 2-5, Kiesendahl 0-1, Guerrieri 0-2), WW 2-17 (Shepherd 2-7, Asinski 0-1, Romanowski 0-2, Fenwick 0-2, Guarino 0-5). Rebounds: WAL 46 (Steffen 16), WW 31 (Romanowski 7, Guarino 7). Assists: WAL 8 (Tirjan 3), WW 4 (Shepherd 2). Steals: WAL 7 (Smith 3), WW 2 (Romanowski, Asinski). Turnovers: WAL 11, WW 11. Blocks: WAL 6 (Steffen 3), WW 7 (Shepherd 4), JV: No game.