HERSHEY - For the Susquehannock girls' basketball team, Saturday's District 3-AAA championship game against Palmyra will be remembered for a lot of 'what ifs'.
What if the Warriors knocked down a couple of shots in the second quarter?
What if a handful of easy layins were made?
What if they didn't find themselves down by 18 points at the half?
"We needed to rebound, push the ball and just play our game," said Susquehannock's Katie Wagner after her team fell to the Cougars by a 46-30 margin. "I think we did that in the third quarter, but it was just too late."
The Warriors earned the No. 2 seed from District 3 into next week's PIAA tournament and will face No. 5 seeded Lancaster Catholic next Saturday at a time and location yet to be determined.
Susquehannock (18-8) only trailed 15-10 after one period, but will forever be haunted by a dreadful second quarter. Coach Dave Schreiner's club missed on all 11 attempts from the field. Not surprisingly the Warriors were outscored by a 13-0 clip in the stanza.
"Could I have stopped it in any way?" Schreiner said. "It was a quarter where just nothing would go in the basket. It really wasn't that we were playing that bad, we just weren't scoring points and they were scoring here and there. One thing adds up to another and all of a sudden it's an 18-point game."
Wagner, who led the Warriors with 14 points for the contest, broke a nearly nine minute drought with a layin to start the second half.
The Cougars (28-0) nearly allowed the York-Adams League Division II runners-up to make it a game with an error-filled third period. Palmyra turned the ball over an uncharacteristically high 13 times in the frame.
Schreiner's club took advantage by outscoring the Cougars by a 15-5 margin in the period, but it could have been even better for the Warriors.
"I thought that (winning by) nine points in each quarter gets us back," he said. "We got back to seven, but really had opportunities to get it to five or even three."
After Wagner hit 1-of-2 free throws to open the fourth quarter, the Cougars responded with an 8-0 run to push the lead back to 15 points (41-26). At that point, another comeback just wasn't in the cards.
"You can't dig an 18-point hole," Schreiner said. "We did one heck of a job just to get back in it. They had a lot of turnovers (30 for the contest, 24 in the second half), but we didn't cash in."
Susquehannock only attempted five foul shots all contest. In contrast Palmyra got 21 shots from the charity stripe.
While the ending was clearly upsetting for Schreiner and his club, the journey to the district title game will never be forgotten. The Warriors upset both previously unbeaten Lancaster Catholic and York-Adams Division I champion West York to make it to the finals.
"The way we got here...we need to take that into this summer," Schreiner said. "We need to feel like we're a team that's a top-seeded team next year."
Before that can happen, the Warriors will have another playdate with Lancaster Catholic, a team they handed a 59-53 setback in the quarterfinals.
The result of that game may have been a surprise to nearly everyone else, but Schreiner didn't feel it was an upset.
"I told the kids it wasn't a fluke the first time," he said. "We're going to have to turn around and do it again. But, I've got to tell you, I think Palmyra is better than Lancaster Catholic in a lot of ways."
Notes: Palmyra's Carly Richardson finished with 14 points. The junior surpassed the 1,000 point mark for her career with a layup early in the second quarter. Teammates Kait Carmo (10 points) and Kristen Smoluk (12 points) also reached double-digits for the Cougars.
Royer 0 0-0 0, Knox 0 0-0 0, Wilson 1 0-2 2, Deter 1 0-0 2, Lebo 0 0-0 0, Fancher 3 0-0 6, Murphy 0 0-0 0, Barnhart 2 0-0 4, Stone 0 0-0 0, Voltaggio 0 0-0 0, Druck 1 0-0 2, Wagner 6 2-3 14, Kerr 0 0-0 0. 3-point field goals: none. Totals: 14 2-5 30.
Dembrowski 0 0-2 0, Tukis 2 2-2 6, Carmo 3 4-5 10, Smoluk 2 8-8 12, M. Gundermann 0 0-0 0, K. Gundermann 0 0-0 0, McClellan 1 0-0 2, G. Gundermann 1 0-0 2, Langley 0 0-0 0, McNamara 0 0-0 0, Richardson 4 4-4 14, Cleckner 0 0-0 0. 3-point field goals: Richardson 2. Totals: 13 18-21 46.
Susquehannock 10 0 15 5 - 30
Palmyra 15 13 5 13 - 46