For all she has done for Riverside over her four-year high school basketball career, Lizzy Spindler has yet to appear in a state playoff game.
While the Binghamton University-bound senior has risen to second place on the Lady Vikes career scoring list with 1,658 points, she will finally get the chance to add numbers from a state game on Saturday when Spindler will lead Riverside (15-10) into its return to the state playoffs with a Class 3A first-round game against New Hope-Solebury (26-1) at Upper Dublin High School in Fort Washington at 5:30 p.m.
Spindler’s state debut could not have come against a more difficult challenge than the District 11 runner-up team, whose only loss came in the district final. Her sparkling numbers of 19 points, eight rebounds, six assists and 4½ steals per game over her senior season will be challenged.
“It’s a huge accomplishment for this group,” Lady Vikes head coach Jack Mekilo said. “It’s something we’ve had our eyes on, something that has taken a lot of resilience and it’s taken some pretty hard hits along the way.
“But we’re here now, we are one of
the 16 teams left in the east, and it’s a
It took a great game and timely assists from the senior late in the District 2 Class 3A third-place game against Mid Valley to finally get Riverside over its final hurdle to the state bracket.
“She has wanted this so badly to get there for so long,” Mekilo said. “She has worked so hard for this, for her and the other girls to get a chance to compete in the state tournament is a great accomplishment, and we’re happy to be riding the coattails of our players because, right now, it is the players’ game and we’re just along for the ride.”
It has been nine years since Mekilo has been to states, before he became the Lady Vikes head coach and he will remember how much getting to states will mean to him.
“I’m excited for the girls,” Mekilo said. “We’ve had chances before, but it’s only because we are in a tough district with so many good teams that we haven’t been able to make it.
“We’re excited, but not content. We think that now we’re here, we’re going to make some noise. That’s going to be our approach to it. We’re going to attack it, and have some fun.”
In neighboring Old Forge, Ron Stacchiotti knows all about pressure, reaching a state final in his first year as head coach — on a team that had graduated its five starters in Tom Gatto’s final year.
After winning the district Class 2A crown for the seventh time in the last nine years with a 42-34 victory over Elk Lake, the Lady Devils head to Scranton High School to play District 4 runner-up East Juniata (15-8) at 6 p.m.
Like Triboro rival Riverside, the Lady Devils will count on the rugged schedule it played in Division III of the Lackawanna League to help them overcome a less-than imposing 9-16 record.
Kierstyn Breig continued to shine after recovering from a burst appendix, leading Old Forge with 17 points against Elk Lake. The trio of Lindsey Welsh (11 points), Alex Nocera (10) and Breig combined to score 38 of the 42 the Lady Devils had in the district final.
A look back
The Old Forge boys were in position to qualify for the state tournament in Class 2A, but fell to top seed Holy Cross, 52-23, in the district semifinals to fall one victory shy of gaining a state berth.