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Comets’ Gegaris saves the day

Crestwood guard makes driving layup to fuel thrilling overtime victory.

Sara Andrews of Crestwood shoots over Kate Smicherko and Tara Zdancewicz of Wyoming Valley West in Thursday’s WVC high school girls basketball game in Plymouth.

PETE G. WILCOX/THE TIMES LEADER

PLYMOUTH—Just when Crestwood needed her the most, junior guard Kayla Gegaris came to the rescue.

Gegaris picked up a loose ball at mid-court, outraced a Wyoming Valley West defender to the basket and made a driving layup with 43 seconds left in overtime, propelling the Comets to a 49-48 victory over the Spartans in WVC Division I action of Thursday night.

“I was just determined to get the ball,” Gegaris said. “I was a step ahead of the defender and I beat her to the basket. I realized I was going to have to put it up left-handed, but I knew it was going in.”

It was a heroic night for Gegaris, who scored 14 points, including two straight three-point baskets in the first quarter that helped the Comets (2-2 WVC) open an early 10-point lead.

However, she almost made a costly mistake when she stepped out of bounds with seven seconds left in overtime. That gave the Spartans possession in front-court.

Wyoming Valley West (2-2 WVC) managed to get the ball to Tara Zdancewicz at the free throw line with three seconds left, but the senior forward was unable to get a shot off.

“When I stepped on the line, I knew it would all come down to our defense,” Gegaris said. “We double-teamed Tara and did a good job of not fouling her.”

Zdancewicz, who paced the Spartans with a game-high 21 points, said she wasn’t able to shake loose for a potential game-winning shot.

“It all came down to defense, and they did a better job,” she said. “We turned the ball over too many times, and it proved to be the difference.”

The Spartans forged a 48-46 lead on two free throws by Zdancewicz with 1:55 remaining in overtime. Crestwood pulled to within 48-47 on a free throw by Sara Andrews with 1:33 left—setting the stage for Gegaris’ heroics.

Gegaris also played an important role for Crestwood in regulation. She made two free throws with 57 seconds left that tied the score at 44-44. Rachael Ritz hit two free throws in the closing minutes to keep the Comets within striking distance.

Crestwood got possession with 40 seconds left, and held the ball for the final shot. However, the Comets missed a 12-footer with three seconds remaining. The Spartans got the rebound, but were unable to get off a shot.

The Comets held a 36-26 lead after three quarters, but the Spartans came all the way back. Wyoming Valley West took a 42-40 lead when Zdancewicz drove the lane for a layup with 3:27 left. However, Crestwood kept its composure and forced overtime.

Crestwood’s 6-foot senior forward Chelsea Cornelius fouled out with 4:05 left in regulation, with the score tied at 40-40.

“I thought it was the worst call,” said Cornelius. “I told Kayla to keep her confidence up, and she played great.”

Crestwood coach Isiah Walker said there was a sense of urgency when Cornelius fouled out, and his team was fired up, especially on defense.

“The other players came together and were determined to win. Tara (Zdancewicz) really killed us, but we did a good job containing (Jamie) Swaboski and Kate (Smicherko).”

Swaboski and Smicherko scored nine points and seven points respectively.

“We made a nice rally in the fourth quarter,” Spartans coach Curt Lloyd said. “We had a chance at the end, but just fell short.”

Cornelius finished with 14 points, and Andrews scored nine points.

CRESTWOOD (49): Cornelius 5 2-2 14, Andrews 4 1-2 9, Mazzoni 0 1-2 1, Gegaris 5 2-2 14, Ritz 0 2-4 2, Jesikiewicz 3 0-0 9, Hislop 0 0-2 0. Toitals 16 8-14 49.

WYOMING VALLEY WEST (48): Swaboski2 5-7 9, Reilly 2 1-1 5, K. Smicherko 1 5-11 7, Yozwiak 1 0-0 2, Maslowski 0 2-2 2, Zdancewicz 8 5-6 21, Keefer 1 0-0 2. Totals 15 18-25 48.

Crestwood 10 8 18 8 5 49
Wyoming Valley West 4 15 7 18 4 48

3-Point Field Goals—CRE: Cornelius 2, Gegaris 2.

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