Bendyk leads Forest City past Lady Sabers
BY JOBY FAWCETT
Times Shamrock Writer
When her team didn’t quite look settled and appeared to be suffering postseason jitters, Cassandra Bendyk played steady and relaxed.
Her power moves to the basket and dominance of the glass led second-seeded Forest City to a 50-26 win over No. 3 Susquehanna on Saturday in a District 2 Class A girls basketball semifinal at Carbondale Area Junior-Senior High School.
Forest City (12-10) will play Old Forge (19-3) in the championship game for the seventh straight season Saturday at a site and time to be determined.
“It was really good that my outside shot was on,” said Bendyk, who had 24 points, 12 rebounds and contributed six blocks.
That was certainly true.
During a sluggish first half where it shot 28 percent from the field, Forest City held a 14-13 lead facing a spirited effort from the Lady Sabers. Bendyk was the most reliable Lady Forester, scoring eight points, while grabbing seven rebounds.
Then, after a pep talk from coach Natalie Winters, Forest City came out in the second half inspired.
Susquehanna (7-16) gave the Lady Foresters one final scare when Nicole Barnes hit a 3-pointer that tied the game at 16 with 6:52 to play in the third. But Bendyk ignited a run that overwhelmed the Lady Sabers.
After a free throw and bucket by Bendyk, Carly Erdmann scored 10 straight points, including three straight on 3-pointers to allow Forest City to pull away and hold a 29-16 lead.
“Our whole team has kind of been on and off lately,” Erdmann said. “We haven’t played a whole 32 minutes. Susquehanna is a good defensive team and we had some trouble, but we rose to the challenge.
“It’s a good win.”
Forest City also turned up the defensive intensity.
Madison McGraw, Michaela Martines, Emily Lewis, Erdmann and Bendyk had two steals each in the second half as the Lady Foresters forced 13 turnovers.
And in the fourth, Bendyk helped secure the win with a pair of early layups, and finished by connecting on five of six free throws.
“I really felt like we came together in the second half,” Bendyk said. “Our coach really woke us up.”
Susquehanna was led by Mikayla Hargett, who had nine points and Amber Dubanowitz, who had six rebounds.
“I knew that they were going to come out and score,” Susquehanna coach Errol Mannick said. “We had to come out and put he ball in the basket and we just didn’t do it. We had some chances.
“But this season, we have won as many games as we have in the last four years combined, so that’s a real positive.”