March 21, 2019
By: Erica Rose
It was a memorable night for the Bethlehem Catholic girl’s basketball team, and it will be an unforgettable one for junior point guard Jaleesa Lanier who played the game of her life in the PIAA 4A Semi-Finals. Lanier dropped a career-high 26 points, 12 of which came in the fourth quarter, to avenge her team's 2nd round loss from a season ago.
Lanier got the night started for the Golden Hawks with a blocked shot, and she couldn't be contained after that. Lanier would knock down four from behind the arc, with the final 3-pointer giving the Hawks the lead for good. It wasn’t an easy victory for the Golden Hawks, who faced a 19-9 Bonner-Prendergast team. The Pandas eliminated Becahi a year ago in the second round of the state tournament and that pain was still fresh. In fact, it could have easily been a repeat of last year, when the Pandas tied the game at 37 with 5:01 left to play. But defense was the key this time around. It’s been the Golden Hawks staple all year and was no different last night. Free throws also became a big part of the game, as the Hawks went 20-for-23 in the fourth quarter, allowing them to outscore the Pandas 29-15 in the final 8 minutes and advance to the PIAA 4A championship on Saturday at Hershey. Abigail Brown, who was also a big contributor, scored 15 points, 11 of which came from the charity stripe.
The Golden Hawks are now 27-6 on the season and will play Pittsburgh North Catholic at Giant Center on Saturday. Head coach Jose Medina is currently 13-3 in PIAA games, and credits the work ethic and determination of his players. They accept each and every challenge the coaching staff throws at them. And it shows, because getting to this point was not a given. The team graduated a few key players a year ago, and lost Division 1 recruit Taliyah Medina for the season due to injury.
As a team the Hawks improve to 32-12 all time in the state playoffs and 4-1 in semifinal games. Their last championship came just two years ago, but they can change that this weekend and I truly believe they have the talent to do so.