St. Joseph girls ousted from state tournament as Berlin Brothersvalley rallies in 2nd half

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Wednesday, March 13, 2024 | 9:59 PM


The St. Joseph girls basketball team didn’t have to wait until the following morning to feel the pain of the bumps and bruises. The Spartans likely felt the agony on the trip bus back from their PIAA Class A second-round playoff game Wednesday night at Hempfield High School.

District 5 champion Berlin Brothersvalley used a second-half rally to muscle its way past the Spartans, 61-50.

“We talked about it for days,” Spartans coach Geoff Dutelle said. “Their physicality jumped out on film. We likened it to an old Big East game. We said it was going to be a physical, drag ‘em out game and have to play all four quarters at that physicality. We knew what it was. Knowing what it is and going out and having to play against it for 32 minutes is different. They are a tremendous defensive team.”

St. Joseph (24-3) appeared uncomfortable with the game’s flow. The Spartans did manage to survive a physical first half with a 22-20 lead. But St. Joseph’s offense struggled mightily.

The Spartans shot only 30% from the field in the first half.

But things weren’t much better for the Mountaineers. Berlin Brothersvalley missed all nine of the 3-pointers it attempted in the first half.

“I think in the first half we were a little bit careless with the ball,” Mountaineers coach Rachel Prosser said. “We were sped up because they did a nice job on defense. We wanted to take care of it better in the second half.”

Prosser’s daughter, Coral, stole the show after halftime. She finished with a game-high 33 points and scored 25 of her points in the second half.

Berlin Brothersvalley (23-5) started to tip the momentum when Regan Lauer made the team’s first 3-pointer with 7 minutes, 4 seconds left in the third quarter to cut the lead to 25-23.

After a defensive stop, the Mountaineers went ahead 26-25 on a layup and free throw by Taylor Hillegass. St. Joseph battled back to tie the score 33-33 on a layup by Julie Spinelli, who finished with a team-high 19 points.

But Coral Prosser responded. Her 3-pointer with 1:40 left in the third quarter put Berlin Brothersvalley ahead for good.

St. Joseph took a major hit to its offense when Gia Richter fouled out with 7:48 remaining. The Spartans weren’t able to get easy baskets as the Mountaineers pulled away.

Anna Kreinbrook also finished with 10 points for St. Joseph.

Dutelle was proud of how the Spartans performed this season. This St. Joseph team set the bar for the program moving forward.

“I told them before the game that they are a historic team no matter what happens tonight,” Dutelle said. “Winning the section for the second year in a row, getting to the Pete for the first time and winning a state playoff game for the first time, those are things that galvanize a community and people will talk about for decades after its over.”

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