Girls beat Palmerton
With senior Meagan Eripret questionable for Friday's district game after suffering a sprained ankle in Salisbury's regular season finale, guards Lindsay Bauer and Kelly Gonoude knew they would be relied upon even more than most games.
Eripret, who practiced for the first time since her injury a day before the Falcons quarterfinal matchup against Palmerton, got clearance minutes before tipoff. But with her still at less than 100 percent, the Falcons' supporting cast needed to step up without Eripret in the starting lineup.
The Falcons got that complete performance they desperately needed.
Bauer led everyone with 25 points, while Gonoude and Eripret each added 15 as No. 5 seed Salisbury topped No. 4 Palmerton, 61-47, in Friday's District 11 Class AA quarterfinals at Catasauqua High School.
"When we played Palmerton in leagues, we both had to step up," Bauer said. "We've worked well together ever since I started playing. We just knew the importance of tonight. It was win or go home."
Eripret took the court during Thursday's practice, but it was still unclear whether the Colonial League First Team selection would suit up 24 hours later.
Eripret did get the nod, but without their centerpiece out for the jump ball, a quick start proved to be critical. The Falcons scored the first seven points, but Palmerton responded with the next nine. That's when Eripret entered the game, with 4:18 left on the clock and the Falcons facing a two-point deficit.
"Yesterday [Thursday] was the first day I did anything at practice," she said. "I did like two walk-throughs and I couldn't do anymore. I was feeling pretty good today, and I did my best to take care of it. Once I was in there I didn't want to come out."
The Falcons fell behind just moments later at 11-9, but Bauer's three-pointer with 30 seconds to play put them back ahead 12-11.
Salisbury never trailed after that.
"I think with that lead, it just motivated us to keep it up," Bauer said. "When we're down, it's hard for us to come back. Being up the entire game was good motivation to stay there."
Gonoude (eight points in the second quarter) and Bauer (seven in the frame) pushed the Falcons' lead to 28-19 at halftime. The two scored all but one of Salisbury's points in the second period-a free throw from Eripret.
The second half began with a head-to-head battle between Eripret and Jade Farquhar, who was named the Colonial League's MVP. Farquhar poured in 10 in the third to cut Salisbury's lead to six on a number of occasions, including at 39-33 when the senior blocked a Falcon shot on the defensive end and took it the length of the court for a spin move and layup.
But Eripret, after scoring three in the first half, was stride for stride with Farquhar (who finished with 23 points) in the third. After Bauer opened the third with a free throw, Eripret scored the next 10 for Salisbury to keep the Bombers at a distance.
"I was feeling really nervous about it, and I wasn't really sure how much I would be able to do," Eripret said. "Once I got in there it was just adrenaline. Towards the end it was feeling a little sore, but I wasn't about to give up in the fourth quarter."
It was the second time in as many games that the Falcons faced Palmerton. The last meeting, a 63-50 loss in the Colonial League quarterfinal, was without Eripret. This one included their star center, and the result tied the season series at two wins apiece.
"We changed our offense a little so that there is more movement," Bauer said, "and so that Kelly and I can shoot more, we can drive more and we can cut. Meagan is positioned a little differently in the lane, so with that, we're just working the ball around and actually driving and shooting."
The Falcons advanced to play No. 1 seed North Schuylkill in the semifinals on Tuesday evening. Results were not available at time of press.