NEPA Sports Nation

Ashton leads Holy Redeemer upset

By Tom Robinson,

WILKES-BARRE – Mia Ashton converted scoring opportunities from long distance and wiped them away from closer to the basket.

Ashton’s 21 points and 4 blocked shots paved the way Wednesday night when Holy Redeemer upset Division 1 champion Pittston Area, 63-59, in overtime in the Wyoming Valley Conference Tournament semifinals.

“We were the underdogs,” Ashton said. “ … I believed since the beginning that we can do this.

“(Lake-)Lehman just beat us for the (division), but I believe we can come back even stronger.”

The Lady Royals entered the tournament 14-9 as the Division 2 runner-up after losing a first-place playoff to Lake-Lehman, Saturday’s championship game opponent. Division 1 champion Pittston Area came in with District 2’s best record at 21-1.

None of that mattered.

With Ashton leading the way, Holy Redeemer scored the first nine points on the way to a 14-4 lead. Then, the Lady Royals shook off a late Pittston Area rally to outscore the Lady Patriots, 9-5, in overtime.

“This shows that when we work as a team, we can compete with anyone,” said Jillian DelBalso, who finished with 19 points and 3 rebounds. “We had a quick start, really moved the ball well as a team and played good team defense and got rebounds.”

Ashton and DelBalso were a big part of the fast start.

The Lady Royals hit their first three 3-point attempts.

Ashton connected twice and blocked two shots in the first 3:30. DelBalso added the next 3-pointer for the 9-0 lead.

Holy Redeemer kept Pittston Area scoreless for the first 4:29 and without a field goal for 5:55.

“I think the girls thought they had something to prove tonight,” Holy Redeemer coach John Jezorwski said.

Meghan Albrecht added to the offense with 14 points.

Pittston Area got 22 points from Daniella Ranieli and 21 from Kallie Booth, who also grabbed 10 rebounds.

Pittston Area took its only two leads, by two points each, in the last three minutes.

“We just couldn’t get the stop to get the ball back with the lead,” Lady Patriots coach Jeff Gregory said.

Ranieli’s drive with 12.1 seconds left forced overtime.

Freshman guard Tessa Cegelka opened overtime with a 3-pointer to put Holy Redeemer ahead to stay.

Albrecht went 2-for-2 and DelBalso 1-for-2 on free throws in the final minute after Ranieli had nailed a 3-pointer to pull the Lady Patriots within one.

Ashton had two free throws off an offensive rebound midway through overtime and blocked Pittston Area’s last shot.

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