BC wins first girls hoops state title
It was all Bethlehem Catholic senior forward Tessa Zamolyi could do to talk, cry, smile, and breathe after the Hawks were crowned PIAA State Class 4A girls’ basketball champions after defeating Villa Maria 46-27 last Thursday at the Giant Center in Hershey.
“Watching and playing for four years, I’m so thankful, and I’m so happy to share this experience with my team,” Zamolyi said. “I’ve been waiting so long, and I’ve wanted to play in this final.”
On one of the first plays of the game, Villa Maria forward Sydney Palerno was called for an offensive foul, and Zamolyi was briefly knocked down with a shot to the mouth.
“We prepared mainly for defense, mainly for their big girls, mainly for their shooting girls,” said Zamolyi. “We didn’t look at this as our last game, but just another victory, and we pulled out another gold.”
The Hawks scored eight consecutive points at the end of the first to take a 12-4 lead. In the last 11 seconds, Becahi guard Taliyah Medina hit a three pointer, was fouled on the shot, and made the free throw.
“That was such a relief after I made that, oh my gosh, yes,” Medina said. “I was so nervous throughout the game because I couldn’t let my guard down. We knew they could come back very easily.”
Villa Maria forward Madison Demski presented a challenge for the Hawks in the second quarter, scoring seven of the Victors’ eight points. In addition, Becahi forward Neila Luma was on the bench with three fouls.
“We made some adjustments at halftime with our 3-2 zone, but we had a great game plan. We scouted them, and we had girls in the right spots, and we trust Neila,” said Becahi coach Jose Medina.
As Demski was an offensive force against the Hawks in the second quarter, Becahi forward Hope Brown stepped up as the offensive force against the Victors in the third quarter, scoring eight points in the period.
“The game came alive for me. I kept pushing and pushing,” said Brown. “This feels so good. I started crying even before the game was over. I couldn’t be happier.”
After consecutive threes by Brown and Medina, the Victors scored six straight, two after a steal made by point guard Addy Cross.
Becahi led 32-22 to start the fourth, and Medina added two points in the opening seconds. Natalie Rhine was fouled and converted one of two free throws. A steal by Medina led to a layup for Zamolyi, and Luma sank two free throws.
Villa Maria guard Julia Casella hit a three in the final minutes before Rhine made two free throws, and Brown made one.
“We all worked so hard to bring this home,” said Rhine.
Morgan Orloski, who saw minutes in the game, along with Julia Zambo, Abby Brown, Briana Barnard, and Solei Rodriguez, in addition to Jaleesa Lanier, Mikayla Jones, Taliah Peterson, and the starting five were awarded gold medals and the state trophy after the game.
Coach Medina and assistants Lisa Kanyuk, Arnold Alleye, and Calvin Arrick also received gold medals.
“The final horn, that’s when I knew we were state champs,” coach Medina said. “You don’t rise to the occasion; you sink to the level of your training, and no one trains harder than us.”