EBENSBURG - For all the success enjoyed by the Bishop Guilfoyle girls' basketball team under Mark Moschella, there was actually a more significant number in the veteran coach's mind than seven.
Four hundred ninety-nine.
Significant not because it is greater than seven, which represents the total of consecutive District 6 Class A championships the Marauders might have under their belts by the end of this weekend, but because of what Bill Adams has meant to Moschella as a friend and assistant coach since the two got together to guide Bishop Guilfoyle's fortunes in 1991.
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
BG’s Lexi Luciano shoots during the Lady Marauders' semifinal victory over Penns Manor.
Bishop Guilfoyle's 53-17 victory over Penns Manor in a district semifinal playoff game at Central Cambria High School on Monday night marked the 499th for the Marauders since Moschella asssumed the head coaching duties.
And yet while he and the rest of the Guilfoyle squad look forward to Friday night's championship game against Portage, Moschella's enthusiasm was tempered by knowing that Adams had suffered a stroke last March and has been unable to assist him throughout the season while in recovery.
"This game marks No. 499," Moschella explained. "And we've always talked about [how] it is such a great number because then it's not about the coaches. It's about the team. This win tonight was for Coach Adams."
Bishop Guilfoyle never trailed against Penns Manor. Mary Roach's hoop off a feed by Emma Myers pulled the Comets within 4-2 just over 2 minutes into the game. It was as close as Penns Manor would get.
"We wanted to take away their size and try to keep as much pressure as we can on the backcourt," Moschella said. "We knew that they have some really good basketball players that can finish in the paint. And we were hoping that our guards could pressure their guards and create some problems for their big kids."
The Marauders captured a 12-6 lead after one quarter and expanded the lead to 27-9 by the intermission. Guilfoyle forced 13 turnovers in the first half while committing only two. The Marauders finished the night with 10 turnovers.
"When you're playing the type of defense that we wanted to play tonight, we're going to make mistakes. We knew that," Moschella said. "I thought that we had a lot of nice opportunites in the first part of the game. And most importantly, I wanted to play our style of basketball tonight. And I thought that our defense really set that up."
Penns Manor coach Jason Miloser could only watch as his team committed many of its turnovers againist marginal pressure.
"We talked coming into the game that how we were going to have to take very good care of the basketball," Miloser said. "That's something that we've been working on all year and we've gotten better at it. But when you're playing a team the caliber of Guilfoyle, you really have to focus on it even more."
The Marauders' Halee Adams led all scorers with 15 points. Kayla Bates added 12 and Devin Stessney contributed 10 points for Guilfoyle, which shoots for a seventh successive Class A district title - not to mention Moschella's 500th win as a head coach - on Friday at St. Francis University.
"When I go in and address the team as to what this victory means," Moschella said, "what it actually means is not so much about the wins; it's about being the best you can be. And that's why '499' is so special."
Portage earned a spot in the championship game by defeating Juniata Valley, 54-41. The Comets and Green Hornets will vie for a state playoff berth when they meet for third place on Thursday. Miloser gave his team something to think about when he finished his post-game address.
"They can decide what they're made of," Miloser said. "It's not [for] a district championship, but, again, let's see what you're made of. Let's see you come back and compete at practice tomorrow. Let's see you work to get ready to work for whoever we have on Thursday."
Sarah DaBella led the Comets with six points.
PENNS MANOR (17): Tomayko 0 1-5 1, Gillo 2 0-0 4, Roach 2 0-0 4, DaBella 1 4-5 6, Myers 1 0-0 2, Drahnal 0 0-2 0. Totals - 6 5-12 17.
BISHOP GUILFOYLE (53): Ehredt 0 2-2 2, Bates 3 4-4 12, Boslet 1 2-2 5, Stessney 4 1-3 10, Adams 7 0-0 15, Miller 1 1-2 3, Craig 1 1-2 3, McGhee 0 1-2 1, Luciano 1 0-0 2. Totals - 18 12-17 53.
SCORE BY QUARTERS:
Penns Manor 6 3 4 4 - 17
Bishop Guilfoyle 12 15 9 17 - 53
3-point field goals: Bishop Guilfoyle 5 (Bates 2, Boslet, Stessney, H.Adams).
Team records: Penns Manor (16-8), Bishop Guilfoyle (24-2).
Officials: Tracy Cornelius, Joe Scialabba, Brian James.