By Rob Malsom
Herald Sports Writer
Who: Hickory (25-0) vs. Greater Johnstown (11-14).
What: PIAA Playoffs, 1st round.
When: 5:30 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Slippery Rock University.
Top Players: Hickory — Nikki Arbanas, 5-7 Sr. (18.8); Holly Grober, 5-11 Sr. (13.7); Nicole LaCava, 5-10 Jr. (9.3); Brandi Beader, 5-9 Jr. (6.4); Megan Chess, 5-4 Jr. (4.8); Reganne O’Brien, 5-8 Soph. (3.5). Greater Johnstown — TaShayla Smith, 5-10 Jr. (14.8); Lexi Lindrose, 5-6 Soph. (13.0); Robyn Madison, 5-7 Soph. (6.1); Ikeiah Burns, 5-7 Jr. (6.0); LaTavia Butler, Fresh. (4.0); Janay Myers, 5-8 Jr. (3.6).
Bonus Shots: After rolling through the regular season practically unchallenged, coach Jeanette Whitehead’s (18th year) Lady Hornets, who are ranked 6th in the state by the Harrisburg Patriot-News/PennLive, made a big statement on Saturday with a 39-24 win over Villa Maria (ranked 5th) in the District 10 title game at Meadville High School. Villa, which played some top-notch teams throughout the state and country during the regular season and has won 3 recent state titles and played in 6 state title games, led 20-13 at halftime, but Hickory outscored Villa 16-0 in the 3rd quarter and 10-4 in the 4th to win its first district 10 title since 1983 when the team was coached by Mercer County Hall-of-Famer Sally Ward. Arbanas scored 14 points and LaCava had 10 to lead the locals. ... Hickory beat Region 3 champ Conneaut Area (45-23) in the D-10 quarterfinals and Mercyhurst Prep (62-42) in the semis. Conneaut also had a pair of 1,000-point scorers in Kristen Baker and Challen Litwiler. ... Prior to the 15-point win over Villa, the closest game Hickory had all year was a 17-point victory over 2-time defending D-10 champion Franklin on Jan. 30 at “The Castle” in Franklin. The first time Hickory played Franklin this season, the Lady Hornets blew out the Knights by 51 points (74-23) at “The Hive” on Jan. 8. ... Last year, Villa beat Hickory (49-37) in the semifinals, but the Lady Hornets responded with a 50-43 win vs. Mercyhurst Prep in the consolation game. Hickory fell to eventual state champion South Park (71-44) in the 1st round of the PIAAs. South Park beat Bethlehem Catholic (53-38) in the state title game. It was the 2nd straight year that South Park eliminated Hickory in the state playoffs. ... Coach Rich Price’s (2nd year) Lady Trojans of Greater Johnstown are a young squad that has played some good competition this season. They compete in the Laurel Highlands Conference in District 6. ... GJ started the season 0-2 after falling to Greater Latrobe (62-41) and Indiana Area (62-55) at the Indiana Tipoff Tourney. Then they beat Cambria Heights before falling to 1-6 with losses to Bishop Carroll, Penn Cambria, Ligonier Valley and Greater Latrobe again. They’ve also lost twice to Bishop McCort and Westmont Hilltop and District 6 champion Bishop Guilfoyle. ... GJ, the No. 6 seed in the D-6 playoffs, beat No. 3 Forest Hills (50-48) in the quarterfinals, No. 2 Westinghouse (63-51) in the semifinals and fell to Huntingdon (38-35) in the D-6 championship game at Mount Aloysius College. ... Against Westinghouse, Lindrose rifled in 30 points and Smith scored 13. ... In the D-6 title tilt, Huntingdon’s Ellie Keller scored with less than 30 seconds left to play on a bank-shot jumper and Butler's 3-point shot to tie the game fell short. Smith had 10 points and 15 rebounds for GJ and Lindrose scored 9. It was the first district title for Huntingdon since 1988. GJ hasn’t won a D-6 title since 2002. ... GJ was 6-17 last year. Prior to this season, they had 36 wins in the past 7 years. ... The game will be simulcast on News-Talk 790 (WPIC AM) and SportsRadio 96.7 (WLLF FM) with Slezak and Bob Greenburg calling the action.
Who: Mercer (18-6) vs. Greensburg Central Catholic (19-5).
What: PIAA playoffs, 1st round
When: 6 p.m. Friday.
Where: Sharon High School.
Top Players: Mercer — Alexis Arkwright, 5-8 Sr. (16.6); Megan McKinney, 5-6 Sr. (10.0); Adelyn Cook, 5-4 Jr. (7.8); Alexis Mills, 5-5 Sr. (6.3); Aubrie Angermeier, 5-7 Soph. (5.3); Jordan Fisher, 5-1 Sr. (5.2). Greensburg Central Catholic — Carolyn Appleby, 5-6 Jr. (20.3); Nikki Addisey, Jr. (13.6); Leah Bisignani, 6-3 Jr.; Abbey Marigliano, 5-6 Jr.; Morgan Stunja, 5-9 Jr.
Bonus Shots: Coach Aaron Cook’s (3rd year) Mercer Lady M’s suffered a tough 38-31 loss to Gen. McLane in the District 10 title game on Saturday at Edinboro University. Mercer, which was attempting to become the school’s first girls team to win a district title since 1986, led 27-19 entering the 4th quarter and was outscored 19-4. Arkwright had 17 points in the loss. Mercer had won 9 straight games before the loss. ... Mercer, the Region 2-AA co-champs with Sharon, beat Fairview (44-33) in the D-10 quarterfinals and Girard (48-38 in OT) in the semis. ... Arkwright has 1,295 career points. ... Mercer’s other 5 losses have come against Mohawk (40-38), Grove City (57-55), Hickory (63-28), Greenville (52-46) and Sharon (54-50). The Mohawk loss was in the Mohawk Tipoff Tourney while the loss to Hickory was in the championship game of the Sally Ward Classic. ... Last season, Mercer beat Girard (45-34) in the D-10 quarterfinals, lost to Gen. Mc-Lane (56-42) in the semis and then failed to advance to the PIAAs with a 48-29 loss to Sharpsville in the consolation game. ... Coach Joe Eisaman’s (1st year) GCC Lady Centurions are led by 3 returning starters in Appleby, Bisignani and Addisey. The team has 5 juniors, 9 freshmen and no seniors or sophomores. ... GCC was the WPIAL Section 3-AA champ with a perfect 12-0 record. ... GCC’s losses have come against Blackhawk (65-49 in Blackhawk Tipoff Tourney title game on Dec. 7 and 84-60 in Hempfield Christmas Tourney on Dec. 27), Serra Catholic (56-55) on Dec. 16, Upper St. Clair (51-50 regular season finalé) on Feb. 10 and fell to Burrell (51-47) in the WPIAL semfinals. Blackhawk won the WPIAL Class AAA championship and plays Mercyhurst Prep on Saturday, Upper St. Clair is a AAAA team and Serra faces Cochranton Saturday. ... In the WPIAL playoffs, GCC ousted Laurel (50-43) and Carlynton (63-61) before falling to Burrell. ... Against Carlynton, Appleby had 22 points, Bisignani bucketed 19 and Addisey added 17 points. ... Against Burrell, GCC led 26-22 at halftime, but was outscored 17-7 in the 3rd quarter. Appleby rifled in 26 points. ... Burrell improved to 25-0 with that win, the only undefeated team in the WPIAL and made its first WPIAL title game appearance, falling to Seton-LaSalle (55-34). Seton, which is led by 3 Pitt recruits, captured its 3rd WPIAL crown in 4 seasons (6th overall). ... The last time GCC appeared in the WPIAL title tilt was in 2007. ... GCC, which has made at least 11 straight PIAA playoff appearances, has been a thorn in the side of D-10 teams in the state playoffs. They ousted Sharon (49-45) in the 2nd round in 2010-11, ousted Lakeview 3 straight years 63-47 in 06-07 in the 2nd round, 69-48 in 05-06 in the quarterfinals and 49-46 in 04-05 in the quarters and ousted Seneca (50-32) in the quarters in 2003-04. ... Both Mercer and GCC are honorable mention squads in the state basketball rankings by the Harrisburg Patriot-News/-PennLive. ... Last year, GCC went 18-8 and lost to Seton-LaSalle (58-38) in the 2nd round of the state playoffs. ... The game will be simulcast on NewsTalk 790 (WPIC AM) and SportsRadio 96.7 (WLLF FM) with Slezak and Greenburg calling the action.
Who: Kennedy Catholic (21-2) vs. California (19-4).
What: PIAA playoffs, 1st round.
When: 4 p.m., Saturday.
Where: Slippery Rock University.
Top Players: Kennedy Catholic — Taylor Hood, 5-5 Sr. (12.3 ppg.); April Bocian, 6-2 Soph. (10.9); Tatum Kress, 5-9 Jr. (10.0); Rebekah Kish, 5-5 Jr. (9.3); Taylor Zacherl, 5-4 Soph. (5.6). California — Kylie Huffman, 6-1 Fresh. (15.6); Jenna Miller, 5-8 Fresh. (9.3); Tristen Conaway, 5-7 Sr. (8.6); Kat Pankratz, 5-6 Jr. (3.5); Dominique Gaston, 5-9 Fresh. (2.7); Brooke Clements, 5-3 Jr. (2.6).
Bonus Shots: First-year KC coach Chris Mele guided his Lady Golden Eagles to their 4th straight District 10 title on Saturday and 10th in 14 seasons (21 overall). Bocian had 18 points and 10 rebounds and Kress bucketed 14 as KC beat Cochranton, 49-38, for the crown for the 2nd straight year. KC trailed 22-16 at halftime and rallied to win. ... KC beat Cochranton, 67-45, for the district title last year. ... KC, which is on a 14-game winning streak and is ranked 6th in the state by the Harrisburg Patriot-News/PennLive), has lost to Neshannock (60-56) on Dec. 9 and to Hollidaysburg (52-39) on Jan. 11 at Gateway Fest at Gateway High School. Neshannock (22-2), which lost to Bishop Canevin in the WPIAL quarterfinals, plays Gen. McLane in the 1st round of the PIAAs on Friday at Meadville High School and is ranked 7th in the state. Hollidaysburg, the defending District 6 Class AAAA champs, fell to Altoona Area in the D-6 semifinals. ... KC went 24-3 last year. They beat North Catholic (45-36) and Port Allegany (70-21) in the PIAA playoffs and then Vincentian Academy (68-51) ended their season ffor the 2nd straight year. Vincentian ended up losing the state championship game to Tri-Valley, 59-42. ... Coach Chris Minerd’s (4th year) California Lady Trojans, ranked 10th in the state, were the WPIAL Section 3-A champs with a 10-0 record and are led by freshman Huffman, who also averages 11.4 rebounds per game. ... Cal has played good defense this season, only allowing its opponents 31.7 points per game. ... The Trojans lost to Brownsville (38-26) and Chartiers-Houston (44-27) in the Brownsville Tipoff Tourney on Dec. 6-7, fell to Brentwood (41-33) in the California Christmas Tourney on Dec. 29 and lost to Serra Catholic (60-40) in the WPIAL semifinals at Baldwin High School on Feb. 26. ... In that game vs. Serra, the 1st time California had ever reached a WPIAL semifinal game, Cal jumped out to a 15-6 lead, but was outscored 11-2 in the 2nd quarter. Huffman scored with 10 seconds left in the 1st quarter and then Cal didn’t score another field goal until Huffman’s basket with 5:21 left in the 3rd frame. She finished with 14 points and it snapped Cal’s 13-game winning streak. ... Serra ended up losing the WPIAL championship game to No. 1 state-ranked Vincentian (66-46). It was Vincentian’s 3rd straight D-7 title. ... California beat Cornell (38-25) in the 1st round of the WPIAL playoffs and defeated (Cardinal Wuerl) North Catholic (45-43) in the quarterfinals. ... In the upset win over 3rd-seeded North Catholic, Miller fired in 18 points for 6th-seeded Cal, Conaway had 14 and Huffman scored 9. North Catholic had a 5-point lead with only 1:10 left, but Cal went on a 9-2 run to close out the game. It was the first time since 2007-08 that NC didn’t advance to the WPIAL semifinals. ... Last season, the Lady Trojans went 14-8 and lost to Quigley Catholic (81-38) in the 1st round of the WPIAL playoffs. ... The game will be broadcast on NewsTalk 790 (WPIC AM) with Ryan Briggs and Chris Burtch calling the action.