Seventh-seeded Marion Center scored the game’s first 11 points and maintained its composure each time No. 2 Westmont Hilltop’s girls began to gain ground in a District 6 Class AA quarterfinal playoff on Friday at Central Cambria High School.
The Stingers completed the upset, 44-37.
“We believe in our defense,” Marion Center coach Janice Brocious said. “Every time we’ve played Westmont the last couple years they’ve done the opposite and got up 10 or 15 in the first quarter, and we had to fight all the way back.
“I’ve been preaching to them all week that we’re not going to let that happen. We played as a team and just played some great defense.”
Despite the low seeding, Marion Center still notched its 20th win of the season against four losses. The Stingers advance to play No. 3 Juniata, a 44-36 winner over No. 6 Tyrone on Friday.
LHAC-champion Westmont Hilltop closed an 18-4 season.
Hilltoppers coach Jodi Hillegass held a lengthy postgame meeting with her team and was not available for comment immediately after the contest.
“We have four seniors out there and those four seniors did not want this to be their last game,” Brocious said. “Seven girls that I played all went in and did a great job.”
Chantel Glasser had 17 points, and Kearsten Brocious added 11 for the Stingers. Katie Snyder had seven rebounds and four points. All three are seniors.
Westmont’s standout senior Alyssa Miller scored 17 points and pulled down four rebounds. Junior Megan Zolnosky had 12 points, with two 3-pointers that pulled Hilltop within four points each time. Senior Taylor Hoover had six rebounds.
“We played Westmont our second game of the season and lost by 10,” Coach Brocious said. “It was like 18-4 before we started to really play them. These girls know that they’re very capable of being in this District 6 Tournament. We’re a talented team. We just have to be able to put it out there.”
The Stingers led 17-4 after one quarter thanks to a defensive effort that held Westmont without a field goal until Miller scored with 15 seconds showing.
Hanna Jo Beer’s short jumper made it 11-0 with 3:09 remaining in the first quarter. Westmont’s Miller hit two free throws to break the shutout with 2:46 on the clock.
Glasser gave Marion Center its largest first-half lead with a second-quarter basket that set a 21-7 score.
Westmont closed the half on a 6-0 run to pull within 21-13 at intermission. Miller had 10 first-half points.
The Hilltoppers continued to chip away in the third quarter, closing within 28-24 on Zolnosky’s 3-point field goal with 42 seconds left. Westmont outscored Marion Center 11-8 in the quarter and trailed by five.
The Stingers opened the fourth on a 6-0 run to lead 35-24 with 3:53 left. Zolnosky later hit a 3-pointer with 1:03 showing to pull Westmont within 41-37.
“We knew they weren’t just going to lay down and die,” coach Brocious said. “We knew Westmont has a 3-point shooter. They’re a great team and we have a lot of respect for them. They have great coaches.”
Mike Mastovich is a sports writer for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/masty81.