POTTSTOWN - Lansdale Catholic girls basketball coach Maggie deMarteleire was at Doylestown Hospital at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday while her father, Jim Algeo, was prepared for open-heart surgery.
As Algeo was being wheeled into surgery at 6:30, he said, "Good luck in the game, Mags." His daughter replied, "Yeah. Good luck to you, dad."
There was good news all around for deMarteleire.
Algeo, the LC football coach for the past 35 years, came through his quintuple bypass in as good condition as possible. Then, Wednesday night at Pottstown High School, deMarteleire's Crusaders erased a 13-point deficit and rallied for a 55-47 victory over St. Pius X in the Pioneer Athletic Conference championship game.
It was the third straight league title and 11th in the last 14 years for top-seeded Lansdale Catholic (20-4), which won its 12th game in a row. The third-seeded Winged Lions (18-6) fell to LC in the championship game for the second consecutive year.
"I never thought about losing," said LC senior Lindsay Formica, who led the Crusaders with 17 points, seven rebounds, three assists, a steal and a blocked shot. "You can't put that in your head. You can't put that in anybody's head. You have to think, 'How are we going to win this?' Nothing else but that."
St. Pius appeared to have a firm grip on the game in the first half with a 32-23 advantage. With Kim Brady and Rayne Reber each scoring 10 points, the Lions led by as many as 13 in the second quarter.
The Lions drilled 14 of 26 field-goal attempts in the half while the Crusaders hit only 9 of 19. Formica, who averages 19 points per game, scored only five first-half points on 2-for-5 shooting.
"The first half they were unbelievable," said deMarteleire. "I thought, 'If they keep playing like this, we're going to be in trouble.'"
The Lions didn't, and the Crusaders weren't.
When Brady canned two free throws midway through the third period, St. Pius held a 38-28 lead.
But a layup by Lindsay Formica, an 18-footer by Katelin Formica, and a layup and three-pointer by freshman Michele Brokans cut the Pius lead to 38-37. A Ryan Mooney layup gave the Lions a 40-37 edge after three quarters.
"You have to give LC credit," said St. Pius coach Joe Masleh. "We had them at halftime, like we had them over there (55-51 loss at LC). They just don't give up. They're tenacious.
"The thing we've got to get in the minds of these young ladies is they've got to play a full game. Are they better than us? I don't think they're better. But they wanted it more."
Lindsay Formica opened the fourth quarter with a three-pointer off a feed from Brokans, tying the score at 40-40. Karen Bloomfield grabbed an offensive rebound and nailed a short jumper to put LC on top, 42-40. The Crusaders never trailed again.
"LC is not a team that's going to stay down," said Reber, who scored 13 points. "They keep battling back and coming at you. That's what they did.
"We played a really good game for a while. We talked, we played good defense, we rebounded. Part of the reason they came back, we weren't rebounding and doing our job."
Brokans floated in a runner for a 44-40 lead before Reber knocked down a trey to make it 44-43. Lindsay Formica sank two free throws and then Kristin Bone hit two free throws for Pius. Lindsay Formica and Bone traded layups, leaving LC with a 48-47 lead.
Lindsay Formica made one of two free throws. Bloomfield rebounded the miss and got the ball back to Formica for a layup, making it 51-47. Shannon Kueny and Brokans completed the scoring with a pair of free throws each.
The Lions converted only 5 of 25 field-goal attempts in the second half. The Crusaders out-rebounded St. Pius, 34-20. But the margin was 23-10 in the second half.
"We didn't go to the boards at all the second half," said Masleh. "Any loss is disappointing. But when you have it and don't want to keep it, it's more disappointing."
The loss was tough to take, but the Lions are already talking about bouncing back.
"This is the second year in a row we've been in the finals and let it slip," said Reber. "But this is not the last you'll see or hear of us. We'll be back next year, and we'll continue to play good in districts and states."
NOTES ... Brady led Pius with 14 points, nine rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks. Mooney contributed six points, six steals, five assists and two boards. ... Brokans finished with 11 points, nine rebounds, four assists and two steals. Katelin Formica shot 4-for-4 from the field, including two three-pointers, for 12 points. She added four rebounds and a stea.l ... Bone was in an automobile accident on the way to school Wednesday morning. Her car was rear-ended and she played with a sore left shoulder. ... Doctors would not allow Jim Algeo to listen to the game in the hospital. So one of his daughters, Mary Eileen, listened to the game in the waiting room and relayed scores to him.