By Lynn Saternow
Herald Sports Editor
WEXFORD — Sinkholes have captured national news lately after one opened inside a Florida house. Well, Saturday afternoon the Kennedy Catholic girls tumbled into a virtual sinkhole of their own and were never able to climb out.
The Lady Golden Eagles missed their first 10 shots of the PIAA Western Regional Class AA semifinals at North Allegheny High School, fell behind Vincentian Academy by a 10-1 score, and couldn’t recover.
That led to a 68-51 loss and the end of another great — but unfulfilled in their minds — season for the District 10 champions.
“We just couldn’t make our shots,” said a disappointed KC coach Tom Burns concerning the early deficit. “That put us in a real pickle and put (the Lady Royals) in the driver’s seat.”
Even Vincentian coach Ron Montcrief wasn’t expecting the quick jump. “I knew if we did what we had to do, we could get ahead early. But to break out like that ... Kennedy is a good team with good size and athleticism. It has been a good rivalry.”
Unfortunately for Kennedy, the Lady Royals have had the best of that rivalry, winning the last three meetings. VC defeated Kennedy in the western semis last year as well (56-51) and earlier this season (70-53).
On Saturday, the Lady Golden Eagles didn’t score until there was only 2:20 remaining in the first quarter. Courtney Sargent hit an inside basket on a put-back off a rebound.
KC did mount a slight comeback and trailed 15-9 after the opening frame. However, Kennedy only made 2 of 15 shots in the period.
In the second period, the Lady Royals were dominating every aspect, led by the unstoppable 6-foot-1 sophomore star Brenna Wise. And talk about holes, Vincentian actually moved ahead by 20 points — 33-13 — on a pair of free throws by Wise with 2:23 remaining in the half.
But KC put on a valiant 10-point burst to end the period. Sparked by a full-court press, the Lady Golden Eagles began to force turnovers and bad shots by the Royals. Rachel Burns put in a pair of free throws; Sargent and Hood canned baskets; Sargent made a foul shot; and Burns finished off the run with a traditional 3-point play that whittled the VC lead to 33-23 at intermission.
“We’ve seen every kind of press,” said Montcrief. “But our girls didn’t handle it well. I had to calm them down.”
Obviously the intermission was the “calm down” the Lady Royals needed.
The third quarter was a battle, but Vincentian moved on top 50-32 with 1:15 remaining. However, Kennedy senior standout Alex Ricketts nailed a 3-pointer with 1 minute remaining and Burns nailed a trey with 15 ticks left to hack the Lady Royals margin to 50-38 at the fourth-quarter turn.
In the final frame, Kennedy was able to cut the deficit to 8 points a couple of times but were forced to foul in the final 2 1/2 and Vincentian made 13 of 18 at the charity stripe to easily hold off the Lady Golden Eagles.
“I was proud of the way the team responded from behind by 20,” said Burns. “But while we cut it to 8, we just couldn’t get any closer. Vincentian is a great team and I hope they do well the rest of the way.”
Wise led Vincentian with 20 points, including 10-of-12 at the foul line, and was a demon on the boards. Abby Bartoszewicz and Maia Joiner each added 10 markers for the winners.
For Kennedy, it was the three seniors — Burns and Ricketts with 17 points each and Sargent with 10 — who led the way in their finals games.
“I’m really proud of my seniors,” said Coach Burns. “They had great careers. I’m so proud of my daughter Rachel who came back 100 percent from her (ACL) injury last year. It was special to be able to coach my daughter. And Alex Ricketts is going on to play Division 1 basketball (at Akron University). I’m not sure about Sargent, but she can play somewhere.”
The seniors were part of three straight District 10 championships. Ricketts finished her career with 1,420 career points and Burns had 1,088.
Kennedy closes out the season at 24-3, with two of the losses to Vincentian and the other to two-time defending AAA D-10 champion Franklin. The WPIAL champ Vincentian (28-1) will next take on Bishop Guilfoyle in the Western Regional title game Wednesday.
PIAA CLASS A
WESTERN REGION QUARTERFINALS
KENNEDY 9 14 15 13 51
VINCENTIAN 15 18 17 18 68
KENNEDY CATHOLIC — Hood 2-2-2-6. Bocain 0-0-0-0, Burns 4-7-7-17, Ricketts 6-4-5-17, Sargent 3-4-6-10, Kish 0-1-2-1, Kress 0-0-0-0. 3-pt. goals: Burns 2, Ricketts 1. Totals: 15-18-22-51.
VINCENTIAN — Ab.Bartosezwicz 2-4-6-10, Wise 5-10-12-20, Key 3-0-0-6, Cash 2-0-1-4, Elliott 1-0-2-2, Gailbraith 2-1-1-5, Al. Bartoszewicz 1-0-0-2, Melvin 0-0-0-0, Marusic 2-0-0-9, Joiner 2-4-4-10. 3-pt. goals: Marusic 3, Joiner 2. Ab. Bartoszewicz 2. Totals: 21-19-26-68.