CLINTON TWP. — No current members of the Lackawanna Trail girls basketball team had ever been part of a win over Forest City.
Until Monday night.
Senior forward Laurelann Penn scored the game-winning basket, off an offensive rebound, to lift the Lady Lions to a 38-37 win over the Lady Foresters in the opening game of the Lackawanna League Division 4 second-half schedule for both teams.
“I was trying to draw a foul, but once it went in, I literally could not hear a single thing in the entire gym,” Penn said. “It was the hustle and heart from our entire team that put us ahead.”
Lackawanna Trail’s bench erupted into a frenzy when the final buzzer went off.
“This is definitely going to bring us a lot closer together and help us pull out more wins in the second half of the season,” Penn added.
Junior guard Rachael Beemer scored four points in the first quarter to help Lackawanna Trail take a 10-8 lead.
The Lady Lions led 8-3 with 4:40 left in the quarter before Forest City’s MacKenzie Hartman scored five straight.
Lackawanna Trail junior forward Cali Fauquier scored four of her team-high 10 points in the second quarter, but the Lady Lions trailed 19-18 at the half.
Hartman, who finished with 19 points and five steals, completed a three-point play to pull Forest City (5-9, 0-1 Div. 1) back within two after Trail took a 16-11 lead with 3:20 left in the second quarter. Bella Pleska hit a 3-pointer and Erin Urban scored off an offensive rebound in the final seconds to give the Lady Foresters a halftime lead.
Lackawanna Trail (3-13, 1-0 Div. 4) turned the ball over 17 times in the first half.
“A lot of them were unforced,” Lackawanna Trail head coach Lauren Sheakoski said. “We talked about it at the half and the girls made some adjustments. They are finally understanding that it takes patience to win games.”
Lady Lions senior guard Lexie Kwiatkowski, who finished with five points and five assists, provided a spark to start the second half. She scored the first three points and assisted on a basket by Fauquier to cap a 5-0 run.
Another senior guard, Ally Decker, scored seven of her nine points in the fourth quarter for Trail, including a critical 3-pointer after Forest City went ahead by four midway through the quarter.
“We were just working together as a team,” Decker said. “We really connected tonight.”
Decker also knocked down two free throws, after missing her first three in the game, to give the Lady Lions a one-point lead with 22 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
“I was a little nervous,” Decker said. “I was just praying that they all went in. Obviously, that didn’t happen but I made them when it counted. We shoot them every day in practice.”
Sheakoski was pleased with the team’s balanced scoring, but believes there is still room for improvement.
“I tell them every day that we have five girls who can score in double digits,” she said. “(Today), I said I need three but I’ll take the win and we’ll keep working harder for the next games.”
Forest City’s Skylar Fortuner scored six of her seven points in the fourth quarter, including a layup off an assist from Hartman to give the Lady Foresters a 37-36 lead.
Sheakoski is hopeful the win will serve as a springboard for a successful second half of the season.
“We had a lot of injuries at the end of the first half, so it kind of affected a lot of things, but they’re finally all healthy and back,” she said.
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.