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Out of Reach

Democrat Photo by Frank Rizzo

JESSICA TIMAN OF Eldred and Ashley Gianchita of Haldane can only look as a ball gets away from both of them.

Eldred Loses To
Defending State Champs

By Frank Rizzo
WEST POINT — March 9, 2001 – Sometimes, mused Eldred girls’ basketball coach Frank Kean, it’s better not to know your opponent.
Kean hadn’t scouted Haldane, the perennial Section I girls’ Class D champ. He knew the Blue Devils would be a formidable foe, knew they had won four state Class D titles since 1989 — the last coming in 2000.
Haldane was all he expected, and more.
“It wouldn’t have mattered what we knew about them, they’re an awesome, fundamentally sound team,” Kean noted.
“Tonight was the next level, and we weren’t ready for it,” Kean said after Haldane beat his Yellow Jackets 57-38 in the opening round of the state basketball tournament Wednesday night at West Point’s Christl Arena.
The Blue Devils blitzed the stunned Yellow Jackets early, jumping out in front 15-2 after 4:11 and leading 23-6 after one quarter.
“At first we were nervous, we were all afraid. We didn’t know what to expect,” admitted Eldred center Stacie Blaut. “We thought they’d be bigger, but it doesn’t matter how big they are, they’re awesome.”
Senior guard Erin Donnelly agreed: “They’re fast, very fast. We were struggling at the beginning, but that’s the way we usually start out. Only tonight we didn’t get a chance to get back in.”
“We got frustrated and made too many turnovers, way over our average” Kean said of the first half. “I’m disappointed that we didn’t come out to play. Maybe having two tough games in a row hurt us.”
Eldred had a tough 34-33 win over Sullivan West/Jeff-Youngsville in the Class D semifinal last Thursday and struggled to beat Roscoe in overtime in the final on Sunday.
The second quarter brought no relief as Haldane surged to a 40-12 halftime lead.
First-year Haldane coach Bill O”Neill said he didn’t expect his press to wreak the havoc it did.
“Most teams Eldred faced wouldn’t use it because of [Eldred ballhandler] Christine Lizzi, and I was surprised it worked as well as it did tonight,” said O’Neill, who replaced longtime coach Ken Thomas.
Eldred finally gained a semblance of itself in the third quarter and actually outscored the Blue Devils in the second half, 26-17.
With 1:53 left, Kean took out his starters, who received appreciative ovations from the Eldred side of the stands.
“I was proud of the second half,” Kean said. “We never died and came out and played tough.”
“I told my team that Eldred [players] weren’t quitters, and we had to expect for them to come back ferociously,” O’Neill said. “I think my girls expended so much physical and mental energy in the first half we were flat. Fortunately, we were able to stay even with them in the second half.”
“We knew it’d be tough,” said Lizzi, whose move back to Eldred after a two-year absence was a key in Eldred’s turnaround. “[Haldane] executed beautifully. I don’t think we’re disappointed, we had a great season.”
Eldred (20–4) was led by Donnelly’s 11 points. Loretta Wolff added seven while Lizzi and Becky Ryman has five each.
Stephanie Spear led Haldane (18–3) with 26 points.
One of his team’s losses came against a Class A school, said O’Neill. The others came against Class C powers, including the top-ranked state team, Dobbs Ferry.
Haldane had a 32-23 rebounding edge, 19-10 in the dominant first half. The Blue Devils shot 25/65 (38 percent) while Eldred was 11/41 (27 percent).

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