Lady Meteors topple Holy Cross, Dunmore
BY MARTY MYERS
Holy Cross did everything it could to stage the biggest upset of opening night.
Montrose’s Dallas Ely made sure everything the Lady Crusaders threw at them wouldn’t quite be enough.
Scoring a career-high 37 points, Ely loaded the Lady Meteors on her broad shoulders and carried Montrose past Scranton, 52-49, in the District 2 Class AA tournament, setting up a semifinal matchup Tuesday with Riverside. Results were not available at presstime.
But just barely.
“We’ve been shooting the ball very well the last two games,” Montrose coach Al Smith said. “Tonight, we didn’t. But we got through it. That’s all that matters. We didn’t play particularly well.
“Holy Cross played outstanding. They came in and played very hard.”
After losing at Montrose by two in overtime in December, the Lady Crusaders were not intimidated by third-ranked Montrose or its now 19-game winning streak. Even when Ely scored 10 in the first4:38to build a 14-2 lead.
Gab Giordano, who led Holy Cross with 17, Emily Mineo, who scored 13, and Kelsi Kincel sparked a 13-0 run as the 10th-ranked Lady Crusaders took their first lead.
When Giordano, the victim of two tough charging foul calls in the first half, stuck a 3 to start the third quarter, Holy Cross jumped in front. And when Mineo capped an 11-2 spurt with a 22-footer, it had its biggest lead, 34-28, with just over three minutes left in the third.
“It was just an off night, but everyone picked it up in some way,” Ely said. “I was nervous, too. I haven’t panicked that bad in a game yet. Senior year, it’s close, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.”
That meant rallying the troops, despite the fact that after the first quarter, the rest of the team went just 1 for 18 from the floor.
Giordano’s baseline drive with 5½ minutes left put Holy Cross on top, 45-42, but Montrose took a time out and ran a play for Ely.
She responded by draining a 23-footer.
“I knew the play we were running and what it came down to,” said Ely, who went 14 for 29 from the field and added seven rebounds and three steals. “I knew what I had to do, and it worked out for the better.”
When Myra Lattimore converted a three-point play on the next possession, the Lady Meteors led, 48-45, and never trailed again. Even if there were some shaky moments.
Leading by one with 90 seconds to play, Montrose misfired three times, but the victors grabbed every offensive rebound, including a key carom from Meghan Gilhool and one from Ely that led to her two free throws with 46 seconds to play.
Giordano answered to cut it to one, and Ely missed the front end of a one-and-one, only to see Holy Cross turn the ball over to Sara Krupinski, who was fouled with 10.2 seconds left.
She also missed, but a lane violation by Holy Cross gave her a second chance and she hit both ends to give Montrose its winning margin.
“I just talked to some of the freshmen and they were shaken, they were upset,” Ely said. “I told them everything everyone did, it all helped us win. It all happened for a reason.”
On Tuesday, Montrose Area scored the first 13 points and never let top-rankedDunmoreget closer than five, rolling to a 58-48 win atAbingtonHeightshigh school to give the Division three champs the top seed in the District II playoffs.
They’ve been teammates for four years, but neither Ely nor Krupinski had seen a Montrose team play like this.
“I’ve never seen us mesh like that in a game,” said Ely. “Defense, offense, it was all there.”
And it was there all night.
“It’s a nice win,” Smith said. “They’re a very good program with a great tradition. I’m happy for our girls, but we also know it’s for real on Friday night.”
So, despite Ely’s 28 points and Krupinski’s 16 points and 10 boards, the win is just a nice stepping stone to the first game of districts.
“This game is huge because any momentum you can get going into the playoffs is perfect,” Krupinski said. “And beatingDunmorelike that is amazing. I think tonight we were hitting everything and they couldn’t stop that.
“It was awesome.Dallaswas hitting everything so her confidence was up. I was making a lot. We were playing solid defense. It was just fantastic.”
Montrose’s worst shooting of the night came at the foul line, where it hit 52 percent. From the floor, the team hit 54 percent, including 56 percent from 3-point range.
And in the first half, Ely and Krupinski combined to go 10 for 12 and scored all 27 of Montrose’s points, with Ely 3 for 3 from long range with 15 points.
“Dallasis an amazing player,” saidDunmore’s Alexa Gerchman, who was pretty hot herself, hitting for a career-high 26 points. “She was hitting every single shot she took. All you can do is try to get a hand in her face and try to stay in front of her and contest her shot. There’s really nothing you can do if she’s knocking them down.”
And she was. With Ely nailing two 3s and hitting a 10-footer from the elbow, the Lady Meteors scored the first 13 and were off to their 19th straight win.
“I felt we were on a roll and I felt hot, but I wasn’t focused on that,” Ely said. “I was just trying to keep going after the next one.”
While Montrose was red hot, Dunmore, the Division II champ, started cold, missing its first 12 from the floor and finishing with a 28 percent shooting effort.
Nicki Lewis and Meghan Gilhool each hit mid-range jumpers to push the lead to 14 early in the third, but Molly Burke hit back-to-back 3s, part of her 14-point effort, andDunmoretrailed, 44-36, after three quarters.
Ely kept the Lady Bucks at bay, draining a 22-footer to start the fourth, then adding a steal and layup and finally an 8-footer that made it 53-40 with2:25to play.
“Tonight is just a whole new slate,” Ely said. “I think we were overlooked as a smaller school and not playing tougher teams,” Ely said. “To come down here and beat the defending District 2 champs for the last six years…”
She trailed off, knowing this wasn’t the most important win her team was looking for. That could come later.
“To be called first, we don’t ever get that,” Ely said. “It’s been nine years since we’ve been called district champs.”