By Tom Robinson, NEPABasketball.com
WILKES-BARRE – Kaci Kranson could barely practice during the week, but oh could she play when it came time for the District 2 Class 2A girls championship game Friday afternoon at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.
Kranson combined a scoring record with an all-around performance that allowed Holy Cross to repeat as champion with a 62-47 victory over Elk Lake.
By hitting 13 of 20 shots from the floor and 7 of 9 from the line, Kranson scored 33 points, the most in the seven-year history of championship games at the arena. She also had eight steals, seven rebounds and five assists
“She’s absolutely fun to watch,” Holy Cross coach Barry Fitzgerald said. “When she gets out in transition in the open floor, what do you do with her?”
Kranson mixed rest with hitting the exercise bike while a deep ankle bruise, suffered six days earlier in the district semifinal, healed.
“For the past couple days it’s still been a little swollen,” Kranson said. “I’ve been icing it. I’ve been doing a bit of everything.
“I’ve been taking vitamins. I’ve been resting it. In practice, I was kind of sitting out and just riding the bike, resting it so I can play today – my last district game.”
Every time Holy Cross needed a basket in the final, Kaci Kranson was there.
Kranson turned a Krista Carachilo steal into the game’s first basket 1:05 in.
After Elk Lake took its only lead early in the second quarter, Kranson turned a steal into a breakaway and put Holy Cross ahead to stay.
When bunches of baskets helped, Kranson was there.
Elk Lake closed within one point for the final time midway through the second quarter and Kranson responded with six of the points in a 10-4 run and two more as it grew to 15-6 for a 34-24 lead with 6:52 left in the third quarter.
Kranson scored 10 points in less than 7 minutes in the first quarter, then 12 in less than 6 minutes in the second quarter to give her 22 at the half.
Elk Lake, however, still remained within 29-24 at the break.
“I thought in the first half we didn’t play bad at all offensively,” Elk Lake coach Kevin Tewksbury said.
Caitlyn Bestrycki and Julia Goetz joined in during the third quarter when Holy Cross outscored Elk Lake, 22-10, in the third quarter.
Bestrycki opened the second half with a 3-pointer and also hit her only other long-range attempt midway through the third quarter for a 40-26 lead.
Goetz made all three of her third-quarter and all four of her second-half shots on the way to 11 points, 9 rebounds, 4 steals and 3 assists.
“Julia Goetz down there for rebounding and passing it up to me for layups was the key today,” Kranson said.
Krista Jones led Elk Lake with 14 points, 6 rebounds, 4 steals and 3 assists. She hit a 3-pointer with three seconds left in the first quarter, then scored in the lane to open the second-quarter scoring.
Freshman Marissa Horn came off the bench to score nine points and lead the team in assists with five.
Holy Cross (15-8) advances into a rematch of its state tournament loss last season, this time playing at home against defending state champion Mount Carmel (20-5) Tuesday.
Elk Lake (15-9) also enters the state tournament and travels to Southern Columbia, one of the top contenders for this season’s title. The District 4 champions are 23-1.
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