CROPSEYVILLE – In the end, the Johnstown Lady Bills only had one 17-point comeback in their bag of tricks.
After falling behind early, the seventh-seeded Lady Bills rallied at the end of the second quarter and beginning of the third to take a four-point lead.
However, Jenna Erickson and Adiya Henderson led No. 2 Tamarac back to another big lead in a 71-49 win in Saturday night’s Section II Class B quarterfinal.
“We scored 49 points as a team, which I think is above our scoring average, but they’re just so potent and Erickson, man, we just couldn’t keep pace with that,” Johnstown coach Tim Derwin said.
Erickson did most of her damage in the first half as she helped the Lady Bengals build their 17-point lead by scoring 15 of her game-high points and knocking down two of her three 3-point baskets in the first half.
The Lady Bills trailed 33-16 after a 3-pointer by Tamarac’s Briana Matazinsky with 3:50 to go in the second quarter with the Lady Bengals looking to put Johnstown away early.
The Lady Bills didn’t let it happen as they suddenly came to life as a putback by Brianna O’Rourke, who finished with 12 points, started the comeback.
Samantha Casale answered for the Lady Bengals by hitting a pair of foul shots with 2:49 to go in the half, but those were the last points Tamarac scored in the half and Johnstown’s defense got some steals and the Lady Bills made a few offensive rebounds. Courtney Cirillo scored six points during a 13-point run, which cut the Lady Bengals’ lead to 35-31 at the half.
Cirillo finished with 14 points in her last game for the Lady Bills.
Sophomore Megan Anagnostopulos sent the Lady Bills into halftime with momentum on their side as she drained a 3-point bucket with two seconds remaining in the half.
“We never gave up and we had some steals and were able to generate some shots off our defense,” Derwin said. “Megan Anagnostopulos hit a couple of big [shots]. It seemed like we got it going there, but [Erickson] was in foul trouble and on the bench at the time and we took advantage of that.”
Erickson was back on the floor when the third quarter started but was unable to stop Johnstown’s momentum.
Hope Cerasuolo scored the first basket of the second half on a putback. Erickson restored the four-point lead with two foul shots but Cerasuolo hit a layup and Heroth made a strong move in the paint to tie the game at 37-37 with 5:38 to go in the third quarter.
Nearly a minute later, Heroth put back a missed shot to give the Lady Bills a 39-37 lead.
Then 22 seconds later, O’Rourke extended Johnstown’s lead to four points with a layup.
“We had opportunities,” Derwin said. “We had a four-point lead in the third quarter. We had just made a nice run to come back in the first half. I’m proud about that. It looked like we were going to push it over the top in the third, then we just ran out of gas.”
That’s when Tamarac had enough.
Matazinsky hit 1 of 2 free throws before hitting a 3 to tie the game at 41-41 as Tamarac rattled off 18 straight points to take a 55-41 lead at the end of the third quarter.
“We missed shots and then she just caught fire and the gap gets wider and wider and it’s just hard, in a game like this, to close the gap,” Derwin said. ‘She takes care of the ball so well. It’s tough to make two 20-point runs against a team like that.”
It’s also hard to make a 20-point run when in foul trouble as the Lady Bengals hit 27 free throws in the game.
The Lady Bengals (19-1) will travel to Rensselaer High School on Wednesday night to face No. 3 Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk, which ousted No. 6 Hudson Falls, 41-35, in the first game of the night.
The Lady Bills (11-9 overall) finished the season by winning eight of their last 10 games and will lose Cirillo, Heroth, Lindsay Brant, Lexi Swatt, Jillian Curtis and Jenna Hohenforst to graduation.
Derwin said he is excited about what the Lady Bills may be able to accomplish next year.
“We’ve got a lot of kids on the roster that didn’t contribute, are contributing now and are returning next year,” he said. “I think it’s a very positive take on the last half of the season with the wins we’ve had.”
Tamarac 71, Johnstown 49
Johnstown12 9 10 8 – 49
Tamarac18 17 20 16 – 71
Anagnostopulos 2-0-5, Cerasuolo 3-0-6, Cirillo 5-4-14, Heroth 3-0-6, O’Rourke 6-0-12, Stock 1-0-2, L. Swatt 1-0-2, A. Swatt 1-0-2. Totals: 22-4-49
Casale 2-2-8, Erickson 6-8-23, Henderson 5-3-13, Matala 1-4-7, Matazinsky 4-10-18, Mitchell 1-0-2. Totals: 19-27-71
3-point goals: Johnstown 1 (Anagnostopulos); Tamarac 6 (Casale 2, Erickson 3, Matala).