HOLLIDAYSBURG — Jan Brocious didn’t relish sweating out her second career playoff victory.
But by night’s end, Brocious had only positives to draw from her team’s resilient comeback against 10th-seeded Central.
Brocious’ Marion Center Stingers overcame their worst half of the season, took their first lead early in the fourth quarter and then never looked back en route to a 47-31 win in a District 6 Class AA first-round playoff game at Hollidaysburg High School on Wednesday.
Seventh-seeded Marion Center (19-4) will face second-seeded Westmont Hilltop in a quarterfinal-round game Friday at Central Cambria High School.
“I think we realized that the first half wasn’t our type of basketball,” Brocious said. “We were rushing a lot of our shots and the shots weren’t going in, so we just talked to them and said, ‘This is no longer a new playoff game. Let’s go out in the second half and play our type of game.’ We still struggled a little bit but I was proud of them because we came back and did what we had to do to win the game, and that’s what it’s all about right now.”
Marion Center never led in the first quarter but erased an early five-point deficit and forged ties on two occasions.
The Stingers’ Kearsten Brocious hit a 3-point field goal midway through the first quarter to forge a 7-7 tie. Karlie Snyder then swiped a steal and made a fastbreak layup to make it 9-9 with 33 seconds to go in the first quarter.
But the Stingers missed seven of their first nine field-goal attempts in the second quarter and fell behind by seven at the break, 22-15. Central’s Ashley Smith scored 12 of her game-high 21 points in the first half.
In the meantime, Marion Center’s leading scorer, Chantel Glasser, mustered just one field goal and three points in the first half.
“We scouted them and knew their rotation (Hanna Jo Beer and Glasser),” first-year Central coach Mike Horton said. “We just tried to take them away and meet them before they got the ball. We knew once Chantel caught the ball she’d be tough to stop, but we also knew we had weakside help coming.”
The Stingers chipped away at the Dragons’ lead in the third quarter until Brocious made her third 3-pointer of the game to trim Central’s lead to 27-26 with 1:37 left in the quarter. Morgan Glasser hit 1 of 2 free throws with six seconds left in the third quarter to again slice the Dragons’ lead to one point, 28-27.
Then, just 18 seconds into the fourth quarter, Chantel Glasser drained a jumper to give the Stingers their first lead of the game, 29-28. Jenny Irvin and Brocious drilled 3s on the Stingers’ next two possessions to stretch their lead to seven points, 35-28, with 6:28 to play.
In the last five minutes, Irvin, Beer, Snyder and Brocious each got on the scoresheet, fueling a 12-3 run that helped the Stingers run away with the win. Brocious made a career-high five 3s and scored 17 points.
“I know I can say this of the four seniors, we all knew that this wasn’t going to be our last game,” Kearsten Brocious said of herself, Irvin, Glasser and Snyder. “The defense was definitely the difference. The defense definitely turned the game up for us and it brought our offense with it.”
The Dragons limited Glasser, who scored her 1,000th career point on Jan. 17, to a season-low seven points. Irvin chipped in 13 points for the Stingers.
“Every time she was getting the ball there were two or three girls hanging on her,” Jan Brocious said. “It was hard for her to get a shot off because they were really plugging things up on the inside. But we’ve talked about it all year that we have five players and everyone has the green light to shoot the ball. We’ve been shooting pretty well, but tonight just wasn’t one of those nights where everything that we threw up went in.”