The Kennedy Catholic girls will compete for the District 10 championship this weekend after picking up a win in the D-10 semifinals on Wednesday night.
In Class AAA, Hickory fell to Villa Maria, 49-37, at Meadville Area Senior High School’s “House of Thrills.” The Hornettes will compete in the D-10 consolation contest Saturday to try to advance to the PIAA playoffs.
In a Class AA doubleheader at Conneaut Lake Middle School, North East edged Sharpsville, 42-38, in the opener while Mercer fell to Gen. McLane, 56-42, in the nightcap. Mercer will face Sharpsville in the AA consolation game.
Sharon High’s Tiger Gymnasium hosted the Class A semifinals. In the opener, Kennedy Catholic beat Commodore Perry, 68-28, and Farrell suffered a heartbreaking 47-46 loss to Cochranton in the nightcap. The losses by CP and Farrell ended their seasons due to no consolation game in Class A.
Following are staff reports:
ä Villa Maria 49, Hickory 37 — The Meadville High gymnasium is known as the “House of Thrills” and the Hickory Hornets provided a lot of them for their fans before finally succumbing to powerhouse Villa Maria there Wednesday night.
The Hornets even were tied at 23 with the Lady Victors – who won 6 straight D-10 Class AA titles before moving up to AAA this year – before a bad third quarter left them headed for the AAA consolation game.
“We have nothing to hang our heads about,” said Hickory’s veteran mentor Jeannette Whitehead. “If you had said to people that we would be behind by only single digits in the fourth quarter, they wouldn’t have believed it.
“We had a game plan and the girls executed it. We’d rather be in the district championship, but now we’ve got to get ready for the consolation game and live to fight on.”
Only the top three teams advance to the PIAA tournament. Hickory will play Mercyhurst Prep on Saturday at a time and site to be announced for the right to return to the state playoffs. Franklin beat MP, 60-45, on Wednesday.
Hickory, district runner-up to Franklin last year, got off to a quick start, grabbing a 3-0 lead on a hoop by Nikki Arbanas and foul conversion by Megan Chess. But the pressure defense of Villa Maria started to take a toll on the Lady Hornets and turnovers led to some quick Lady Victors points and an 8-3 margin.
Holly Grober hit a pair of fouls to hack the lead to 8-5 and later made a basket that whittled the VM lead to 11-7 by the end of the quarter.
The second quarter was a shining moment for the Lady Hornets who began to gain confidence against the favored Lady Victors.
Villa vaulted to a 15-7 lead after a pair of buckets by Shanice Morris, but the rest of the half belonged to Hickory. The Hornets outscored the Lady Victors, 16-8, heading toward intermission and a pair of foul conversions by the speedy guard Arbanas with 2.4 seconds remaining tied the count at 23.
Grober had 5 points and Jenna Placek and Arbanas 4 points each during the comeback, while Brandi Beader hit a key trey.
Early in the third period, Arbanas canned a 3-ball and the Lady Hornets were on top, 26-25, but then the momentum took a terrible shift for the Red and Black. Led by Indiana University-bound Karlee McBride’s 5 points, the Lady Victors jumped out 33-26 before Arbanas finally made one of two fouls with 2:29 left to stop the bleeding.
However a pair of foul conversions by Leah Bennett staked VM to a 35-27 margin by the fourth-quarter turn.
The Lady Hornets made a valiant attempt to rally and they cut the lead to 5 points twice. However, the Lady Victors pulled away and converted 5 of 6 free throws late when Hickory was forced to send them to the line.
“We went cold in that third quarter,” lamented Whitehead after watching her team make only 1 of 9 shots. I’m going to have to look at the game films to determine what happened.
“It’s a bitter taste not to win, but now we have to bounce back. This team can do it. As I said, they have nothing to hang their heads about in losing to a very good Villa team.”
Notes: McBride led the winners (22-2) with 17 points, including 3 treys. Morris added 11 points. For Hickory (20-4), Arbanas and Grober had 14 and 13 points respectively. For the game, the Lady Hornets made 11 of 32 shots from the floor, but the 37 points was well over the average of 27.6 allowed by the Lady Victors this season, best defensive total in District 10. — By Herald Sports Editor Lynn Saternow.
ä North East 42, Sharpsville 38 — In the opener at Conneaut Lake Area Middle School, the Lady Pickers outscored Sharpsville 24-8 over a stretch in the second half to erase an 8-point halftime deficit.
With the win, the ‘Pickers (21-3) advanced to the D-10 Finals against General McLane (22-2) Saturday at a site and time to be determined, while the Blue Darlings (16-8) will match wits for a third time with Mercer (17-7).
Sharpsville’s defense was on point in the first half, limiting the Lady ‘Pickers to just 25 percent shooting (6-of-24 from the field) in the first half and made NE standout Alex Artise a non-factor with just 4 points.
Meanwhile, the Darlings got equal contributions from McKenzie Popatak, Megan Davis and Natalie Henwood – who combined for 19 of Sharpsville’s 22 first half points – and were pretty lethal from downtown, making 4-of-6 triples.
But North East opened the second half scoring 9 of the first 10 points to knot the score at 23-all, but Sharpsville was able to momentarily stick with the Pickers before Madison Turiczek’s three-ball with 6:11 left in the fourth quarter gave North East a 30-28 lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
North East eventually built its lead to 40-30, but Sharpsville didn’t quit, pulling to within 41-38 on a Henwood lay-up.
Henwood and Davis evenly split 24 points to pace Sharpsville, while Popatak had 11 points and 9 rebounds.
Artise was the lone North East player to reach double figures with a 15-point, 13-rebound double double. ----- Information submitted by Herald Sports correspondent Corey J. Corbin.
ä General McLane 56, Mercer 42 — In the night cap at Conneaut Lake Area Middle School, the Lady M’s nearly overcame the Lady Lancers and themselves in a tightly contested D-10 semifinal matchup.
Mercer committed 23 turnovers, were outrebounded 45-34 and were whistled 25 fouls before the clock mercifully ticked to double zeroes.
With the win, the Lancers (22-2) advanced to the D-10 Finals against North East (21-3) Saturday at a site and time to be determined, while the Lady M’s (17-7) will attempt to find a way to solve Sharpsville (16-8) for the first time in three tries – the Blue Darlings beat Mercer 46-27 and 42-32 during the regular season.
Mercer stayed with the District 10 No. 1 seed for most the first three quarters and actually tied it at 24-all on an Alexis Mills three-pointer to open the second half.
The Lady M’s stayed within striking distances for much of the third quarter and only trailed 36-31 entering fourth period.
General McLane connected on 13-of-19 freebies in the fourth quarter to cement the win.
Mercer was led by Adelynn Cook’s 15 points, while Michelle Jahn (13), Katie Rodrigues (12), Lindsey Jahn (11) and Katie Clark (10) all reached double figures for the Lady Lancers, who committed just 12 turnovers and 14 fouls. ----- Information submitted by Herald Sports correspondent Corey J. Corbin.
ä Kennedy Catholic 68, Commodore Perry 28 — At Sharon High, the Lady Golden Eagles eased to their 21st win in their last 22 outings.
KC coasted to a 19-4 first-quarter lead and was never challenged.
Courtney Sargent secured a 16-point, 14-rebound double-double to key Kennedy (21-2), Alex Ricketts recorded 15 points, Rachel Burns bucketed 9 points and dished out 5 assists, and April Bocian burst off the bench for an 11-point, 11-rebound double-double.
“The girls executed well and did everything I asked them to do,” assessed KC head coach Tom Burns, who said regarding another District 10 title tilt appearance,
“My first year as a coach — that was a really bad year — then winning that second year, I’ve had a hunger ever since then. I think we fell short the year following, then ... this would be our third (in a row) if we’re able to do it again. It’s gonna be a good game against Cochranton.
“But I’m really proud of this group. They play hard, and they play for me, and that’s what I love,” Burns added.
For Commodore Perry (11-13), Stephanie Vaughn vaulted to a share of game-high scoring honors with 16 — 14 during the 2nd half — and Autumn Campbell collected a half-dozen caroms.
Veteran head coach Bob Messina will bid adieu to seniors Kaitlyn Powell and Lexie Grinnell.
“I’m really proud of the girls. Coaching at CP is just an awesome experience,” Messina related. “When we first started out, if you were to tell me that we’d be playing Kennedy for a third time, I don’t know if I’d have believed you or not. These girls worked so hard this season, and just to be in the semifinals of the District 10 playoffs, I couldn’t be prouder of my girls. ... It’s a step forward for my program.
“It’s a tribute to what these girls have done for the last six months,” Messina continued. “Yeah, this game we lost, but we’re winners, and I’m proud of them.
“(The seniors) have been the backbone of the program for so long,” Messina praised. “Lexie Grinnell, there’s not a grittier player and a girl with more heart out there on a team. She is the ultimate team player, the ultimate competitor. Just someone you love to have in your program. And Kait Powell, I’ll tell you this right now, she has really stepped up. She’s really embraced the role of leader this year. She’s the most athletic girl I’ve ever coached.
“We always talke about leaving positive ‘paw prints’ on the program,” Messina added. “These two have been in the playoffs for three years in a row and they’ve been a big part of that. They’ve left that positive ‘paw print’ for the younger girls. They’ve established what it takes to get (the playoffs) and I’am gonna miss them.” — By Ed Farrell, Herald assistant sports editor.
ä Cochranton 47, Farrell 46 — In the nightcap of the twin bill at Tiger Gymnasium, it appeared as though Mercer County cage fans could anticipate another Farrell-Kennedy Catholic D-10 title tilt.
Farrell forged a 44-37 lead with 2:06 remaining, before the Lady Redbirds rallied.
Abby Clulow converted both ends of a 1-and-1 bonus free-throw opportunity with 47.7 ticks to play as Cochranton closed within 46-45. Then following Farrell’s 7th turnover of the quarter, Morghan Egli fed Kassidy Dickson for what proved to be the game-winning score.
Lady Steelers’ skipper Eddie Turosky hailed a timeout with 12.6 seconds left, but Makayla Washington’s runner from the lane glanced off the rim, with the Lady Redbirds rebounding.
Fouled on the rebound, Dickson missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 4.8 seconds, but Key Asia Oatis’ court-length desperation heave at the buzzer was off the mark.
“It’s a horrible way to lose,” Turosky admitted. “The kids, I think, got a little rattled in that last minute-twenty-two, we made some really crucial mistakes — fouling jump-shooters, not boxing out, not executing our press-breaker the way we did all week (in practice).
“But they are high school athletes,” Turosky reminded. “And no matter what you scream or draw up in a huddle, sometimes their emotions, or they’re fatigued, and they’re not focused on everything you’re saying and they’re gonna make mistakes. But it’s a tribute to Cochranton; they played all the way to the end.”
The Lady Redbirds roared to a 15-8 first-quarter lead as Dickson dropped in 7 points, but from that juncture Cochranton almost completely collapsed.
During the game’s final 24 minutes Cochranton committed 19 miscues and the Lady Redbirds recorded only 12-for-46 shooting from the floor.
But Egli edged her way to 6 of hier 10 points — which, coupled with her game-high 14 caroms completed a double-double — and Clulow converted 4 of 5 fourth-frame freebies.
Turosky, in Farrell’s 43-39 opening-round overtime win over Rocky Grove, annexed his 200th career coaching win at Farrell, but will have to wait until next December for No. 201.
“I’ve never been a guy about numbers. Wins and losses count for the kids; they’ve never counted for me,” 13th-year taskmaster Turosky said. “ ... I’ve never taken any personal accolades from coaching. The accolades that I get are the kids that go on to college ... or get a degree ... or get a steady forty-hour-a-week job. Just show me that I taught them some kind of discipline in life.”
Johntae Scott and Nahzia Polk are the Lady Steelers’ lone seniors.
“Congratulations to my two seniors,” Turosky praised. “’Tae’s’ given me seven or eight good years of hard work, and Nahzia got here from Erie a couple years ago and has been a very committed player for me, and I wish them all the luck in their future endeavors.”
Polk produced a career-high 16 points for Farrell (12-12), while Washington snared 7 caroms and tallied 10 points. Also, Scott dished out 4 assists and Murray mustered 10 rebounds despite playing with a painful leg injury. She and Oatis (9 rebounds, despite suffering an ankle injury) played, while Tatyana Page (ankle injury suffered against Rocky Grove) could not go.
For Cochranton, Madison Bernarding bucketed 13 points and collected 9 caroms while Kendall Dickson and Kassidy Dickson delivered 11 rebounds and 11 points, respectively.
“This team has been a challenge for me all year,” Turosky summarized. “We were without kids early in the year with knee injuries, we lost our leading scorer to discipline reasons, but they just continued to persevere and continued to do the things I asked them to do. It just says a lot about their character and committment to the program.” — By Ed Farrell, Herald assistant sports editor.
DISTRICT 10 SEMIFINALS
HICKORY 7 16 4 10 37
VILLA MARIA 11 12 12 14 49
HICKORY — Arbanas 3-7-8-14, Grober 4-3-6-13, Placzek 2-0-0-4, Chess 1-1-3-3, Beader 1-0-0-3, Shephard 0-0-0-0, Moore 0-0-0-0. 3-pt. goals: Grober 2, Arbanas 1. Totals: 11-11-17-37.
VILLA MARIA — Harden-Pullium 2-1-2-6, Morris 4-3-4-11, Putnam 0-0-0-0, Agnello 0-0-0-0, Mifsud 1-4-4-7, Bennett 2-4-4-8, McBride 5-4-4-17, Maxson 0-0-0-0. 3-pt. goals: McBride 3, Harden-Pullium 1, Mifsud 1. Totals: 14-16-18-49.
MERCER 12 9 10 11 42
GEN. McLANE 17 7 15 17 56
MERCER — Arkwright 2-3-5-, Whenry 1-3-4-5, Mills 2-0-0-6, Cook 5-3-5-15, Ryder 0-0-0-0, McKinney 2-0-0-4, Fisher 0-0-0-0, Anermeier 1-0-0-3, Zacherl 1-0-2-2. 3-pt. goals: Cook 2, Mills 2. Totals: 14-9-16-42.
GEN. McLANE — L. Jahn 3-4-5-11, M. Jahn 3-6-9-13, Clark 2-5-7-10, Rodrigues 4-4-6-12, Lytle 2-0-0-4, Schaefer 1-4-5-6, Miller 0-0-0-0. 3-pt. goals: L. Jahn 1, M. Jahn 1, Clark 1. Totals: 15-23-32-56.
SHARPSVILLE 15 7 6 10 38
NORTH EAST 10 4 11 17 42
SHARPSVILLE — Popatak 4-2-6-11, Davis 4-0-0-12, Przicina 1-0-0-3, Henwood 5-2-4-12, Scurpa 0-0-0-0, Kurelko 0-0-0-0. 3-pt. goals: Davis 4, Popatak 1, Przicina 1. Totals: 14-4-10-38.
NORTH EAST — Artise 6-3-5-15, Bowen 3-0-0-7, Prather 1-2-3-4, Turiczek 3-1-2-8, Kowalewski 1-0-0-2, Lewis 3-0-0-6. 3-pt. goals: Bowen 1, Turiczek 1. Totals: 17-6-10-42.
COMM. PERRY 4 4 9 11 28
KENNEDY 19 16 22 11 68
COMMODORE PERRY — Powell 1-0-0-2, L. Grinnell 0-0-0-0, Kitchen 4-0-0-8, Vaughn 6-2-2-16, Campbell 0-0-1-0, Nagy 0-2-2-2, Sernik 0-0-0-0, S. Grinnell 0-0-0-0, Beachy 0-0-0-0, Stringert 0-0-0-0. 3-pt. goals: Vaughn 2. Totals: 11-4-5-28.
KENNEDY CATHOLIC — Burns 3-1-2-9, Ricketts 6-0-0-15, Sargent 7-2-2-16, Hood 2-1-3-5, Kish 3-2-2-10, Bocian 5-1-2-11, Kress 0-0-0-0, O’Brien 1-0-0-2, Volkay 0-0-0-0, Yacoub 0-0-0-0. 3-pt. goals: Ricketts 3, Burns 2, Kish 2. Totals: 27-7-11-68.
COCHRANTON 15 12 4 16 47
FARRELL 8 19 8 11 46
COCHRANTON — Bernarding 5-2-3-13, Kend. Dickson 1-0-2-3, Egli 5-0-0-10, Quickel 1-0-0-2, Clulow 1-4-6-7, Kass. Dickson 5-0-1-11, Vincent 0-0-0-0, Offi 0-0-0-0, Knauff 0-0-0-0. 3-pt. goals: Bernarding 1, Kend. Dickson 1, Clulow 1, Kass. Dickson 1. Totals: 18-7-14-47.
FARRELL — Scott 2-0-0-4, Oatis 1-1-2-3, Murray 2-1-8-5, Washington 4-2-2-10, Avery 1-3-4-5, Polk, 8-0-0-16, Sharper 1-1-2-3. Totals: 19-8-18-46.