Here’s my basketball notebook that ran in Thursday’s paper:
Notre Dame of East Stroudsburg girls basketball coach Frank Bertola expected his team to go through some growing pains early this season.
That’s only natural after four starters graduated from the most successful team in school history, one that reached the District 11 Class A title game and PIAA playoffs for the first time.
While the Spartans lost their first two games in December, it was in that second defeat where Bertola started to see some growth.
Notre Dame trailed Lakeland by 21 points at the half and by 26 early in the third quarter before whittling the lead down to six points late in the fourth. The Spartans lost 67-57, but they had clearly turned a corner.
“That was really a turning point for the girls,” Bertola said. “They got within six points of the lead with about a minute and half left and then just ran out of gas, but from there we reeled off six straight wins.”
Since that 0-2 start Notre Dame has won 12 of its last 15 games, winning its last five games. The Spartans are in the district playoffs for a fourth straight year with five games left to try and gain a high seed.
The outstanding play of senior guard Angelica Bertola — Frank’s daughter — has been a big reason for Notre Dame’s success.
Bertola has scored in double figures in all 17 games and has gone for at least 20 points 13 times. Bertola, who leads Monroe County in scoring at 23.4 points per game, is coming off a career-high 34 points in Tuesday’s victory over East Stroudsburg North, and she became the school’s all-time leading female scorer when she passed Nancy Richards last Friday. She’s 34 points short of passing Jamey Bercier, who scored 1,495 points, for the all-time record at Notre Dame.
“She came into the season knowing that losing four starters was not going to be just tough on her but also on the team,” Frank Bertola said. “She worked hard during the summer to try and get everyone up to par, and coming into November she said that everyone had to step up and play together. She’s been a great leader on the court as well as off the court.”
The Spartans have gotten plenty of contributions throughout their lineup.
Freshman Krista Kissell is second on the team in scoring at 9.4 points per game and has eight double-digit scoring games, senior Annabella Stigliano has three doubledigit games, sophomore Kendall Farley has two and junior Lizzie Pope scored a careerhigh 16 points against North Warren last Friday.
“Krista Kissell puts in a good performance every night and, while she might not always hit double figures, she’ll have five assists and the other things that don’t show up in the newspaper,” Frank Bertola said. “Annabella Stigliano has stepped up tremendously and hadn’t seen much playing time before, but this year she’s doing great on the boards. Lizzie Pope has picked up her play both scoring and on the boards and Kendall has done the same. She’s just a sophomore and there will be a lot of good things coming from her in the future.”
Battle turning it up
Stroudsburg can wrap up the top seed for the Mountain Valley Conference boys playoffs by beating Pleasant Valley on Friday.
If the Mounties can do that, they’ll host next Tuesday’s semifinals with senior guard Jacob Battle playing his best basketball of the season.
Battle, a starter since he was a sophomore, has scored in double figures in seven straight games for the Mounties and in nine of his last 10 outings. Battle is averaging 18.2 ppg and has hit 20 of his 44 3-pointers this season in the past 10 games.
“He’s really been playing well for us in all facets,” Stroudsburg coach Shawn Thornton said after last Tuesday’s victory over East Stroudsburg North. “He’s scoring, he’s rebounding and he’s been getting the ball to his teammates. He understands that he’s going to be a main focus of other teams and he knows how to use that and to take what they’re giving him.
“He’s also provided us with a lot of leadership and I’m really happy with where he’s gotten to leadership wise as well as with how well he’s playing.”
Panthers ready to prowl
Pocono Mountain West has won three straight MVC boys titles and the Panthers will surely be in the hunt for a fourth next week.
PM West has won seven straight and has been fantastic at both ends of the floor. The Panthers are averaging 71.9 ppg and are allowing just 51.3 ppg.
Leading the way on the offensive end all season has been senior guard Joe Wiggins, who is averaging a county- best 22.9 ppg and is just 43 points shy of becoming the first male at West to reach 1,000 career points.
Freshman Lance Singh has also played well lately, averaging 14.5 ppg with 15 3s over the past six games. Sean Cooper has scored in double figures in five of the past seven games.
As teams still jockey for position in the MVC playoffs, a number of schools have qualified for the District 11 playoffs.
On the boys side, East Stroudsburg North, Pocono West and Stroudsburg have clinched berths in the Class AAAA playoffs. East Stroudsburg South needs to win its last two MVC games (against Lehighton tonight and ES North on Friday) to make the postseason for a third straight year. Notre Dame of East Stroudsburg, led by Tyrell Mann (16.4 ppg), Rob Farley (10.1 ppg) and Ramon Ned (9.9 ppg), is in the Class A bracket for the first time since 2008-09.
For the girls playoffs, ES South, Pleasant Valley, Pocono Mountain East and West are all in the Class AAAA playoffs with Notre Dame ES in the Class A bracket.