No. 13 Quaker Valley girls upset No. 4 Freeport in Class 4A 1st round
Monday, February 18, 2019 | 10:39 PM
It is often said that when the WPIAL playoffs begin, every team enters with a clean slate.
The No. 13 Quaker Valley girls basketball team held fast to that belief and used it to score a 41-38 Class 4A first-round upset of No. 4 Freeport on Monday at North Allegheny.
“This was huge,” Quakers coach Tom Demko said of the victory’s impact for his young team that has no seniors and only two juniors.
“We talked about how important this game was, first to just get here, but second how big a win would be for these girls and the whole program. We want them to feel confident moving forward. I think they realized that tonight.”
Quaker Valley (13-9), which qualified for the playoffs with a win in its section finale, will take on No. 5 Elizabeth Forward in the quarterfinals Thursday at a time and site to be determined.
“You never know how they are going to react to something like this at this stage,” Demko said. “They’re young. They don’t have any experience in this type of game. The nerves were there a little bit early, but once they realized they could play with this team, who is a very good team and a very well-coached team, they started gaining confidence.”
Freeport, in the postseason for the third straight year, finished with an 18-5 record.
“I give (Quaker Valley) credit. They played a good game,” Yellowjackets coach Fred Soilis said. “We were 11 of 17 from the line, and that doesn’t help, and we missed a ton of easy ones under the hoop. If even half of those go in, we win. But it’s the playoffs, and anything can happen. They are an up-and-coming team. It just didn’t turn out our way.”
Quaker Valley held the largest lead of the game by either team — six points — at 20-14 and 22-16 late in the first quarter and early in the second. Freeport battled back with a 14-7 advantage in the third quarter and closed out the frame on a 9-2 run to lead 30-27 heading to the fourth.
Quakers sophomore center Claire Kuzma, who missed time after picking up her fourth foul with 3:55 left in the third quarter, converted a layup at the 3:12 mark of the fourth to give her team a 40-35 advantage.
Harley Holloway, one of three Freeport players to finish in double figures, hit one of two free throws to trim the QV lead to 41-38 with 1:35 left.
Freeport controlled possession over the final minute of play but couldn’t get the points needed to tie the game or take the lead.
Madeline Clark missed a layup with 10 seconds left, but she got her own rebound, and Freeport called a timeout to set up a play.
Out of the timeout, the ball ended up in the hands of Samantha Clark on the right wing. She attempted a 3-pointer, but Bailey Garbee extended and blocked the ball out of bounds with less than a second on the clock.
Quaker Valley stole the final inbounds pass, and the celebration began.
“I knew they had to shoot it because there wasn’t any time left,” Garbee said of her late defensive play. “I just went for it, and luckily they didn’t call a foul. It was crazy.”
Freeport came in averaging 57.8 points. Quaker Valley limited the potent Yellowjackets’ long-range shooters to three 3-pointers.
“We talked about how they stay out on the perimeter and look to drive and kick and look to shoot 3s,” Demko said. “We talked about closely guarding those girls out there. They all can shoot it. It was just a matter of closing out with high hands. This is just a credit to their defensive effort.”
Sophomore Corrine Washington led Quaker Valley with 15 points, Garbee added 12, and Maura Conlin, who delivered a key 3-pointer for the Quakers in the fourth quarter, contributed nine points.
“We worked really hard in this game, offensively and defensively,” Washington said. “Everybody was contributing, and we did it.”
Madeline Clark fronted Freeport with 14 points, and Sidney Shemanski added 11.
As Quaker Valley is a youthful squad, Freeport loses just one starter — Haley Graham — to graduation.
“We’re going to battle back, but unfortunately we’ve got to wait until November,” Soilis said.
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .
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