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Lancaster Catholic girls fall in state semifinals

The Lancaster Catholic Crusaders' run ended at historic Martz Hall in Pottsville.

POTTSVILLE, Pa. — The road to winning a state title is long and arduous with travel all across the state. 

Some sites have a little more pizzazz than others, in the 3A girls' state semifinals, Lancaster Catholic met Dunmore in one of the Keystone state's marquee venues. 

It's a special venue for a special time on the calendar for teams who dream of a PIAA championship. 

The sound of the horn above echoed throughout the venue, signaling the start of the game.

This state playoff game on the path to gold takes place in a gem itself: Historic Martz Hall in Pottsville. 

"Good evening ladies and gentlemen and welcome to Martz Hall," boomed the voice of public address announcer Bob Umbenhauser. 

This a gym that coaches, fans, players, and even officials love to attend. 

"They don't build them like this anymore and I don't know why," said Marc Bolesky, whose daughter, Mary, plays point guard for Lancaster Catholic. 

"It is a fantastic venue [that] all basketball players should play [at]," he continued, comparing Martz Hall to the Palestra in Philadelphia as the two best venues in the state.

Lancaster Catholic coach Charlie Detz had some good history on this court, his girls were excited to get the chance to play here. "I know the girls were excited beforehand and they are in the locker room, when they come out they are going to take it all in."  

As the Crusaders emerged from the locker room, you can see their eyes light up. An audible "wow" from their group jumps out as the girls enter the tunnel and gaze into an empty double-decker arena known locally as "The Mecca."

Another girl could be heard saying, "This is beautiful."

It's a special experience and that is the goal for the staff at Martz Hall, to deliver above and beyond for high school athletes.

"We love hosting, and we love the Martz Hall experience, we call it," Pottsville Area Athletic Director Eric Rismiller smiled as he talked about the venue. 

"We want kids to enjoy their time here, we want fans to enjoy it, we want coaches, we want officials, we want everyone to enjoy it. We think going through the PIAA playoffs. you have to experience Martz Hall," he continued.

On this night, Lancaster Catholic ran into a hot Dunmore squad.

Down early, they battled back. 

Mary Bolesky buried a triple from the corner to make it a seven-point deficit at the break. In the third, Catholic went on a run. 

In transition, Rylee Kraft knocked down a mid-range jumper and Carleigh Anderson followed on a drive to cut it to six. 

As the Catholic fans rose to their feet, Bolesky, playing on a court that her mom also played on in high school, stepped into a three from the top of the key to make it a three-point game. 

Unfortunately, that's as close as the Crusaders would get, as Dunmore hung on for a tough 43-37 victory. 

It may not be the outcome the Crusaders envisioned, but it was still a great run to the semifinals. 

"We just worked so hard and we really wanted this," teary-eyed junior guard Riley Kraft said after the game. "It's hard that it came to an end but we really just put our heart and soul into it."

They'll have a few days to relax and compose, then it's time to think of next season for a squad that will return every starter.

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