HAMPTON TWP — Revenge was sweet.
So is sharing the WPIAL Section 4-5A title for the Mars girls basketball team.
The Planets avenged an earlier loss to Hampton, downing the Talbots on the road, 59-52, Thursday night.
“We’ve had trouble beating Hampton on their home court,” senior Lauren Wasylson said, “so this win is huge. We only lost by two the first time we played them, so we knew we could come out tonight and beat them.”
Wasylson led the Mars attack with 20 points, but it was the hot shooting of Alek Johnson that sparked the Planets in the second half and helped them overcome a two-point halftime deficit.
Johnson scored 11 of her 13 points in the second half, including three 3-pointers, the first of which gave Mars the lead for good at 33-32 early in the third quarter.
The first half was a back and forth struggle that featured six ties and three lead changes. The largest lead for either team in the first half was five points. Wasylson and Tai Johnson both scored nine points in the half, while the duo of Laryn Edwards and Ali Collins combined for 23 of the Talbots 28 points in the half.
“Lauren and Tai are excellent leaders for us,” Mars head coach Dana Petruska said of the team’s top two scorers. “When we played them (Hampton) the first time, Lauren had the flu and Tai had just come back from injury, so tonight we were healthy and it showed in our performance.”
The third quarter was all Mars, though, as the Planets used a 12-0 run to turn a 32-28 deficit into a 40-32 lead. The Talbots would get no closer than five the rest of the way.
The Planets have now won eight in a row and 15 of 16, as they prepare for their season ending game at home against Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic on Monday. The playoffs will begin the following week.
“We are playing our best right now,” Wasylson said. “We are playing together as a team, and are excited about the playoffs, but we are just taking it one game at a time.”
Edwards paced the Talbots with 22 points, while Collins chipped in with 21.
“They are hard to guard,” Hampton coach Tony Howard said of his dynamic duo. “They make me look a lot smarter than I am sometimes.”
Despite the loss, Howard, who was the Planets’ coach for eight years before joining the Talbots, is pleased with his team’s accomplishments so far.
“I have never been prouder of a team than I am of this one,” Howard said.
Petruska is optimistic for Mars’ chances heading into the playoffs.
“We are reaching our peak at the right time,” Petruska said. “We are capable of so much more, though. Our girls know there is no tomorrow from this point on.”
Lauren Wasylson 8 3-5 20, Tai Johnson 6 4-5 17, Alek Johnson 4 2-2 13, Bella Pelaia 3 1-2 7, Ellie Coffield 0 0-0 0, Nichole Sommers 1 0-0 2. Totals: 22 10-14 59.
Laryn Edwards 8 4-5 22, Ali Collins 8 2-2 21, Brooke Fuller 1 0-0 2, Olivia Bianco 2 0-0 5, Maddie Stevens 0 0-0 0, Julia Powers 0 0-0 0, Alisha Januck 0 0-0 0, Natalie Rydzak 0 2-2 2. Totals: 19 8-9 59.
Mars 13 13 19 14 — 59
Hampton11 17 10 14 — 52
3-point goals: Mars 5 (Wasylson, T. Johnson, A. Johnson 3); Hampton 6 (Edwards 2, Collins 3, Bianco)