NEPA Sports Nation

Collins leads Classics to Lynett title

Rita Collins

By Tom Robinson,

SCRANTON – Eventually, Scranton Prep shooters began to cool off and the Classics’ outrageous shooting percentages began to dip.

Rita Collins’ never did.

Collins made all six shots she took from the floor and led the Scranton Prep defense in a Most Valuable Player performance as the Classics won a meeting of top-ranked teams, 52-33, over Dunmore in the Lynett Memorial Tournament girls championship Thursday at the Lackawanna College Student Union.

The younger sister of current Bucknell University standout Cecelia Collins is the latest family member to excel in a tournament that honors the name of her great grandfather and his siblings more than 70 years after the family created the event as a boys tournament.

“It means so much,” Collins said. “Growing up, I’ve gone to this tournament watching my sister play; watching my cousins play.

“To be on this stage and to be helping my team just means the world.”

Collins was the game’s leading rebounder with eight, all on the defensive end. She also made a game-high five steals.

The offensive load was shared.

All-tournament selection Maya Jenkins scored 14 points, Jenna Hillebrand had 12 and Claire McGrath pitched in 9.

The Classics shot 80 percent overall from the floor (12-for-15) for nearly 12 minutes to begin the game, taking a 27-16 lead in the process.

That lead expanded by 10 more points to 37-16 as Scranton Prep remained above 80 percent from 3-point range more than two minutes into the second half at 5-for-6.

“We work really hard at it,” Scranton Prep coach Bob Beviglia said. “They’re very talented, but I say it all the time: ‘They’re gym rats’.

“They’ll leave my practice and go get a shooting workout in.”

That results of that practice showed.

Hillebrand and McGrath each made both of their 3-point attempts in the first half and McGrath was 3-for-4 from long range for the game. Jenkins, the other sophomore starter, was 6-for-10 while leading the team in scoring and in assists (five).

“I thought the sophomores played older than sophomores tonight,” Beviglia said. “They were very poised. I thought Claire McGrath was fantastic on both ends of the floor.

“(Dunmore’s Sophia) Talutto is a real good player, but she got nothing easy.”

Freshman Jaclyn Brown led the Lady Bucks with eight points. Talutto, a member of the all-tournament team, added seven points.

Cadie Lewis, who dished out five assists, and Tristan Canavan, who led the team with six rebounds, each added six points for Dunmore.

Dunmore’s last lead was at 5-4.

Scxranton Prep scored the next seven points for the first of three leads of six points in the first quarter.

Dunmore got within 15-13, but Bella Dennebaum scored in the closing second of the first quarter, then Hillebrand hit her two 3-pointers in the first 1:28 of the second for a 23-13 lead.

Lewis hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key for the only Dunmore points of the second quarter.

Collins then scored consecutive baskets, starting a streak of 14 straight points to highlight what became a 22-3 run to a 37-16 lead two minutes into the second half.

“We played with a lot of confidence,” Collins said. “We knew the atmosphere we were playing in and we played hard tonight.”

Dunmore made one run at Scranton Prep.

Cavanan scored twice inside and Lewis hit a 3-pointer for the last seven points of the third quarter.

Talutto, who had a 3-point attempt spin out in the closing seconds of the third, started the fourth-quarter scoring with two free throws to complete a 9-0 run, but the Lady Bucks could not get closer than 11.

Scranton Prep, the five-time defending Lackawanna League Division 1 champion, improved to 6-0, joining Pittston Area and Wilkes-Barre Area as the last three unbeaten teams in District 2.

The Classics finished 22-for-42 (52.4 percent) from the floor, including 7-for-16 (43.8 percent) on 3-pointers.

Dunmore, the nine-time defending Lackawanna League Division 1 champ, is 5-2. The Lady Bucks are the No. 1 Small School while the Classics are the No. 1 Big School in the Riverfront Sports Super Six Basketball Power Rankings of District 2 teams.

Scranton 51, Holy Cross 26

Finley Bittenbender made 9 of 13 shots while scoring 20 points lead Scranton to the win in the third-place game earlier Thursday.

Holy Cross scored the game’s first six points and led 11-10 after one quarter.

Bittenbender had 13 of Scranton’s 17 points when the Lady Knights shut out the Lady Crusaders in the second quarter for a 27-11 halftime lead.

After scoring 18 first-half points, Bittenbender opened the second-half scoring with another basket to complete her day as a scorer.

Canyah Randle added 11 points and 11 rebounds.

Kennedy Bittenbender, who made three steals, and Maggie O’Shea had four assists each.

Jenna Luciani led Holy Cross with nine points and eight rebounds. All-Tournament pick Guiliana Mazza added six points.

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