Friday, March 24, 2023 | 2:01 PM
HERSHEY — Union’s girls basketball team was unbeatable for 16 straight games in reaching the PIAA finals, and finished off that winning run with a historic victory on the biggest stage in Pennsylvania.
The Scotties captured the program’s first state title with a 46-29 win over Lourdes Regional in the Class A final Friday afternoon at Giant Center.
Union (23-6) was led in scoring by Kylie Fruehstorfer, who finished with 19 points, including five 3-point baskets. Kelly Cleaver added 12 points in the victory, eight of them in the first quarter.
“It’s an unbelievable time to be a Union fan,” coach Rob Nogay said as his team joined in on the success the Scotties have had across several sports the last 12 months.
With both teams depending on a 2-3 zone in the halfcourt, each side looked to outside shooting on offense. That turned much of the contest into a 3-point competition between Fruehstorfer and Lourdes’s Paityn Moyer.
Fruehstorfer finished the game 5 for 7 from beyond the arc, while Moyer was 4 for 6.
“Kylie is a big-time player for big-time situations,” Nogay said. “I’m confident with the ball in her hands in key situations.”
The closest the Red Raiders (22-8) got in the second half was four points, when Moyer made the fourth of her treys to make the score 28-24. But Fruehstorfer answered with her fifth to put the Scotties up 31-24 with 4:52 to play in the third quarter.
“During warmups, they were going in a lot,” Fruehstorfer said of her jumpers. “When they went in during the game, I felt the hot hand coming.”
In the fourth, which started with the Scotties up 35-29, Union made an adjustment by going to a box-and-one with Mia Preuhs following Moyer. This kept Moyer from attempting another 3-point shot in the comeback attempt.
“It’s all about defense for us,” Nogay said. “We wanted to get after them, and we had to close on their shooters better.”
Meanwhile, Kayla Fruestorfer popped her own 3-pointer to give Union a 40-29 lead with seven minutes left in the fourth and help seal the game.
Union, who had allowed just 28 points per game in the first four rounds of the state playoffs, kept Lourdes off the scoreboard for the entirety of the fourth quarter. The Scotties also held Lourdes’s top scorer, Masie Reed, to just three points, well under her average of 11.8 points per game.
Both teams started the game with full-court pressure. Union’s press was particularly effective early, forcing four turnovers on six made basket opportunities. The last of those takeaways, after Zoe Lepri’s free throw put Union ahead, led to a Fruehstorfer 3-point basket that put Union up 12-8. A Cleaver field goal with a second left gave the Scotties a 14-8 lead after the first quarter.
Fruehstorfer made another trey late in the second for a 26-16 lead, though Reed made her only basket in the last minute of the half to get Lourdes within 26-19 at the break.
Lourdes had 16 turnovers, while Union had just nine against the Red Raiders’s press.
“We kind of emphasized that in the playoffs,” Cleaver said. “That in the playoffs we had to break the press and not make so many turnovers. I kept finding the hole in their press.”
Cleaver, the only 6-foot player on the floor, led all players with nine rebounds in addition to helping Union get downcourt. The Scotties had a 28-21 advantage on the boards.
Moyer finished with 12 points for the Red Raiders.
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M.A. Voepel, ESPN.comJun 2, 2023, 11:31 PM ETCloseM.A. Voepel covers the WNBA, women's college basketball, and other college sports for espnW. Voepel began cove