Going into last Friday night's rivalry game with Riverside, the Old Forge girls' basketball team was unbeaten on the season with a 9-0 record. Junior Lauren Carey didn't expect anything less after having such a strong end to last season.
The Lady Devils are the defending District 2 Class A champions and made a nice post-season push in the PIAA Class A state playoffs last year.
"I expect this," Carey said of the unbeaten start. "I don't expect anything less from my team."
Old Forge defeated Riverside by a score of 50-45 in a spirited, hard-fought game.
The Lady Devils trailed after the first half of play by a score of 24-20. Carey sat out most of the second quarter in foul trouble, but still managed to score 18 points in the game.
Carey came through when the Lady Devils needed her most scoring half of those 18 points in the fourth quarter. Many of those points came from the charity stripe, where Carey was 10-for-13 in the game.
"Coach (Tom) Gatto teaches us that free throws win games," Carey said. "If we don't make our free throws we are never going to win a close games, we shoot a lot of them practice and tonight it paid off."
Old Forge girls' basketball coach Tom Gatto said the game against Riverside wasn't one of the better games his team played this season. Gatto said the strong defense and hustle Riverside played with was a big reason his team struggled.
"We are spreading it around," Gatto said. "We have a bunch of kids that shoot the ball well. If somebody isn't scoring one night, somebody else comes in, like tonight Tori (Tansley) came in and shot the ball well."
Carey and Gatto both agree the success from the end of last year has carried over to this season. However, both said success can't be expected just because it happened in the past.
"The team has come along so far," Carey said of this season. "We haven't played as well today as I hoped we would have. We barley got by, but we pulled though, a win is a win."
Not only was the end of last season special for the team Carey also opened manyeyes with a spectacular perforce in the state playoffs. She completely dominated Lebanon Catholic by scoring 40 points in the second round of the PIAA Class A playoffs which was held at Hazleton Area High School.
"It gave me confidence, but you only as a good as your last game so I try to forget about it," Carey said modestly said. "You aren't going to try to do that every game. It can happen to anyone. I got lucky."
Carey is hopeful the success will continue for Old Forge this season. She said the Lady Devils are looking to compete for a Lackawanna League Division III title, repeat as PIAA District 2 Class A champions and make another run in the PIAA Class A state playoffs.
She is also a member of the softball team, the peer mediation team and the scholastic bowl team.