The Old Forge girls basketball team was among those high school athletes who had their schedule changed because of the snowstorm that hit the state earlier this week.
Instead of playing its second-round game in the Class 2A girls tournament on Tuesday, the Lady Devils had to wait until at least today to get back on the court. When Old Forge (10-16) finally gets the chance to put their uniforms back, they will be at Hazleton Area High School for a 6:30 p.m. start, eager to face Mahanoy Area (21-7), a team that has already defeated the Lady Devils this season.
The extra time off may not be the benefit as it sounds, because a stoppage in school keeps the athletes away as well.
“It really doesn’t help, because when the schools are closed, you can’t practice,” third-year Old Forge head coach Ron Stacchiotti said. “If the school is closed on Tuesday and Wednesday, we might not be able to practice.
“That clearly is not going to help preparation time.”
But this group of Lady Devils is not ready for the season to end just yet
“They’re excited, they’re ready to go,” Stacchiotti said. “They’re on a high right now, they’re very happy.”
With a trio of guards that have supplied much of the offense firepower for the Lady Devils, there are two others who have not received a lot of credit but have deserved their roles in the starting lineup. Maya Florovito, a 5-foot-8-inch senior and 5-foot-10 junior Jennifer Regan have made strides in their games this season.
“Maya plays good defense on the interior; when I put Alex (Nocera) on the opposing team’s top guard, I put Maya on the opponent’s best center or forward, when we match up a little bit,” Stacchiotti said. “She’s been rebounding, playing good defense, getting us some steals in there.”
Regan has provided offense from time to time, but it is her defense that has Stacchiotti talking for now.
“Jen can score, she’s scored in double digits sometimes,= for us,” Stacchiotti said. “She will rebound, and now she is starting to play really good defense inside for us,” Stacchiotti said. “She is learning how to move her feet and how to play defense inside now.
“It’s not just the guards, these two inside have been playing good.”
Stacchiotti added a reserve off the bench, 5-foot-7 senior Julia Kuckla, for handling the pressure of being the first substitute off the bench.
“Kuckla has been playing well, defensively and rebounding for us and she’s aggressive and really goes after it,” Stacchiotti said.
But it is still the trio of senior Kierstyn Breig, freshman Lindsey Welsh and junior Nocera that has proven that they are the three key contributors for the Lady Devils.
“When these three guards are healthy, we have a combination that’s one of the best in the area,” Stacchiotti said. “They just play well together.”
They seem to live up to Stacchiotti’s billing, time after time, whether it being scoring all but four of the Lady Devils’ points like they did in Old Forge’s win over Elk Lake for the District 2 Class 2A title, or by getting all but three points of the 31-24 defeat of East Juniata in the state first round game on Saturday. Nocera led the defensive effort that held a 1,000-point scorer to three points.
Riverside ran into a similar defensive effort when they fell to New Hope-Solebury, 33-18, in a Class 3A state opener.
Lizzy Spindler ended her Lady Vikes career with a team-high eight points, pushing her career total to 1,666 points.