Lady Crusaders Win District Title

By Steve Svetovich

Seniors Abbey Lentowski and Emily Ferguson scored 21 and 15 points, respectively, and team leading scorer Kaci Kranson added 17 as the Holy Cross Lady Crusaders defeated Old Forge, 59-38, Friday, March 12, in the Class 2A final to earn the school’s second District 2 title at Mohegan Sun Arena.

Ferguson hit on three-of-five 3-pointers in a district title win that was especially sweet considering she tore her right ACL in the state tournament last March. Her 15 points were a season high.

Lentowski, who added seven rebounds was feeling a sense of revenge stemming from last season’s loss to Old Forge in the final.

Five first quarter steals set the tone for the Lady Crusaders. The steals helped Holy Cross build a nice, early lead. 

Ferguson drilled a 3-pointer near the midway point to put Holy Cross up, 8-4. 

Kranson then scored off Lentowski’s steal and then hauled down a rebound and went the length of the floor for a bucket. 

Lentowski did the same following her steal and the Lady Crusaders had a 14-4 lead.

A tight Holy Cross defense held Old Forge’s Olivia Ciullo to one field goal and four free throws in the first half. Ciullo was held to 13 points, well below her season average, in the contest.

Makayla Parker led Old Forge with 17 points in her final game.

Ferguson got things going in the second quarter by hitting a 3-pointer as part of a 7-0 burst. Lentowski capped off the scoring spree by hitting a long shot at the top of the key.

Old Forge staged a comeback in the second quarter when Parker scored six points and Ciullo added a free throw. 

But Ferguson and Lentowski then came through in the clutch. 

Ferguson hit on two free throws and added a bucket on a baseline drive. 

Lentowski added two more buckets around a Parker drive in the final minute of the half as Holy Cross built a 34-17 halftime lead and never looked back.

The closest Old Forge came in the second half was a 45-34 deficit with 5:42 left in the game.

However, Lentowski, Kranson and Julia Goetz scored the next eight points to seal the win and district title for coach Barry Fitzgerald and the Lady Crusaders.

Kranson, who averaged 21.4 points, added three assists and two blocks. Lentowski, who averaged 18.3 points, had three steals.

Holy Cross advanced into the Class 2A quarterfinals after Linden Hall withdrew due to COVID-19 circumstances within its program.

Holy Cross then lost, 50-47, to Mount Carmel, Friday, March 19, in the PIAA Class 2A quarterfinal at Mount Carmel.

Mount Carmel all-state center Dani Rae Renno scored four points in the final 47.8 seconds and forced a turnover with seven seconds left to help the Red Tornadoes edge Holy Cross.

Holy Cross had staged a dramatic comeback after trailing, 41-31.

Kranson, who led all scorers with 22 points, hit a 3-pointer to start a 12-0 Holy Cross run giving the Lady Crusaders a 43-41 lead with 2:11 left in the contest. Kranson hit two free throws to give Holy Cross the lead. Lentowski hit a clutch 3-pointer and Caitlyn Bestrycki hit a big shot in the 12-0 run.

Renno then tied the game with a put back.

Then Lentowski hit a huge 3-pointer and the Lady Crusaders had the lead back with 1:46 left.

Renno scored on a layup. Mount Carmel regained possession after a ball was ruled out of bounds by Holy Cross. Renno missed a shot, but was fouled when she went for the rebound. She hit two foul shots to give her team a 49-47 lead with 29.1 seconds left.

A play was set up for Kranson, but as she drove, Renno tried to cut her off. Kranson was knocked off balance and she was called for traveling.

A Mount Carmel free throw made it 50-47 with 4.8 seconds left.

Kranson then drove the length of the floor, but missed a 25-footer to end the contest as Mount Carnel (17-5) advanced.

Lentowski scored 10 points for Holy Cross in the loss. Sophomore Krista Carachilo added six points on two first quarter 3-pointers which helped the Lady Crusaders build an early 15-9 lead.

Kranson had 10 rebounds and two blocks for Holy Cross (12-5) in the loss. 

Kaci Kranson Scores 1,000th Point for Holy Cross

By Steve Svetovich

Only a junior, Kaci Kranson celebrated with Holy Cross teammates as she scored her 1,000th career point Friday, January 29, in the Lady Crusaders 76-44 win over Lakeland.

Kaci scored 26 points as her team won for the fourth time in five games this season. Senior center Abbey Lentowski led Holy Cross with 30 points in the win for the No. 6 ranked Lady Crusaders.

Daughter of Jill and Ryan Kranson, Kaci’s late grandfather Jerry Foley was a local legend as a standout professional boxer in the 1960s and 1970s. 

“I was very surprised and happy to achieve 1,000 points in my junior year,” Kaci, 17, said. “Every year I ser personal and team goals. This was one of my personal goals, so I was happy to achieve it so quickly. It was just such a crazy, outstanding feeling. I was so happy my teammate were a part of it. They played a big part in making it happen.”

Kaci averaged 23 points per game as a sophomore last season when she was a Lackawanna League All-Star. She is averaging 23 points per game with 115 points in her first five games this season. 

“My parents always teach me to work hard and give it my very best shot. That is what they tell me should always be my focus, trying my very best.”

The standout junior point guard said Holy Cross veteran basketball coach Barry Fitzgerald teaches her similar values.

“He teaches me to always work hard. And he tells me to be more patient on the court while looking for the open pass or shot”

Kaci is a three-year starter on the Lady Crusaders basketball team. She will be a three-year member of the Holy Cross softball team, although no games were played las year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She plays centerfield and was a Lackawanna League All-Star as a freshman outfielder. 

The scholar-athlete has an impressive 3.9 academic average. She is a member of the Service Club, Pro Life Club, Student Council and is class president of the junior class. She is a member of the National Honor Society.

She talked about what it takes to be a good point guard in high school basketball. 

“You need to look up and down the court and be very selective with your shot or passing the ball.”

Kaci said she wants to play basketball in college. She would like to see Sean Mendez in concert. Last year she saw Ariana Grande as a birthday present from her mom.

Kaci’s best academic subject is English. The sharp shooter said she is thinking about studying physical therapy in college. 

She talked about future goals. “Well, first I want to help our team go as far as we can in the district and state playoffs in the next two years. Then I want to get accepted to a good college, play college basketball and get a great education and finally have a good career.”

Kaci is completely enjoying her experience at Holy Cross.

“I absolutely love it here at Holy Cross,” she said. “Everyone knows each other here. It is like one big family. 

“All of the teachers and coaches are great. It is the best place to be for me. I have met so many nice people and made great friends. We are all so close. This is a family here.” 

Abbey Lentowski Making Her Mark for Lady Crusaders

By Steve Svetovich

Holy Cross Lady Crusaders senior center Abbey Lentowski is trying to make the most of her senior season.

And she is more than making her mark on the talented Holy Cross girls’ basketball team. 

Daughter of Andrew and Tricia Lentowski, the senior stalwart scored 30 points in the Lady Crusaders 76-44 win over Lakeland Friday, January 29. She scored 16 points in the second quarter alone as Holy Cross built a commanding 49-21 halftime lead.

It was the same game teammate Kaci Kranson, a junior, scored her 1,000th career point while contributing 26 points in the win. 

The victory gave the No. 6 ranked Lady Crusaders a 4-1 record to start the season under veteran coach Barry Fitzgerald.

Abbey, 17, a four-year member of the Lady Crusaders basketball team, following the win over Lakeland, needed only 138 more points to reach 1,000 for her career. 

“I am hoping to reach that,” she said. 

The scholar-athlete has an impressive 3.9 grade point average at Holy Cross. She is a member of the Foreign Languages Club, History Club and the National Honor Society. She is a four-year member of the soccer team as a midfielder. 

She talked about her team’s improving performance. “We started out our first game slow, but then we really came together and grew as a team. We are getting better each game as we continue to work together. Now we are working together as a team extremely well. I think we can continue working well as a team and go far in the playoffs.” 

The talented senior center said her favorite academic subject is Spanish. Her favorite musical artist is Ed Sheerin who she previously saw in concert. “He was amazing. I can’t wait to get a chance to see him again.”

Abbey will study and play basketball at Immaculata University in West Chester next year. She will major in criminology or pre law with a goal of eventually going to law school and becoming an attorney like her dad. 

“I find law to be interesting,” she said. “I’ve seen some of what my dad does and would like to follow in his footsteps.” 

Abbey is averaging 18 points per game after the team’s first five games this season. She also had three double-doubles in the team’s first five games. She was a second team Lackawanna League all-star and made the Lynett Tournament all-tournament team last season.  Abbey was also a second-team all-star for soccer. 

Intelligent and hard working, Abbey credits coach Fitzgerald for much of her success. “He teaches us to hustle on every play. He tells us to go all out all the time. He teaches us to work together as a team.”

Abbey said her parents are always there for her. “My parents teach me to never give up even when things get real hard.”

She talked about what it takes to be a good center in high school basketball. “You need to have a lot of energy, be physical and want to get the ball.”

The senior standout said school and sports can be challenging during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It can be very nerve racking playing basketball during a pandemic. At any moment you can lose players or the season can end. We do take all the necessary precautions to make it work.

“And school being hybrid makes it difficult to learn at times. The students and teachers are trying their best.”

Nevertheless, despite a pandemic for the past 12 months, Abbey has thoroughly enjoyed her experience at Holy Cross as she prepares to graduate this year. “I have enjoyed it a lot. The teachers and coaches here really care about you. It has been an excellent preparation for college.

“I’m excited about going away to college next year. It is my chance to be independent and see what I can do.”