By Ed Farrell
Herald Assistant Sports Editor
MEADVILLE — Everybody is on April Bocian’s bandwagon — and rightly so. But Tatum Kress helped keep Kennedy Catholic High girls’ basketball program atop District 10’s Class A competition.
Kress connected for all 14 of her points during the 2nd half Saturday afternoon, keying the Kennedy Catholic to a 49-38 conquest of Cochranton.
At Meadville Area Senior High’s “House of Thrills,” Kennedy Catholic captured its 4th consecutive crown — 10th in 14 seasons — in its 2nd straight collision with Cochranton in the finale.
The 6-foot-3 Bocian brokered a game-high 18-point, 10-rebound double-double, converting 4 of 6 fourth-quarter free-throw attempts. Only a sophomore, she’s on many collegiate coaches’ radar.
During the 2nd half, however, Kress keyed Kennedy Catholic, which trailed 22-16 at halftime following a handful of deadlocks and similar number of lead changes.
“I really challenged her, I got on her really, really hard at halftime, ’cause she just hadn’t played her game,” confided 1st-year KC Head Coach Chris Mele.
“(Mele) got on all of us .. we weren’t playing our game,” Kress said.
But when McKayla Fusco fed Kress, who converted with 3.6 ticks remaining in the 3rd period, KC captured a 27-25 edge that the Lady Golden Eagles never relinquished during the game’s final 8 minutes.
Cochranton (19-5) — a program that has never captured a District 10 girls’ cage crown — connected on only 6 of 24 second-half field-goal attempts; conversely, KC converted 20 of 28 freebies, led by Kress’ 9-for-11 marksmanship.
Another key for Kennedy Catholic (21-2) was that, though the Lady Golden Eagles ended with 11 turnovers, only 1 occurred during the 2nd half.
“We were out of sync a little bit,” Mele admitted regarding a 10-turnover, 7-for-24 first-half shooting performance. “But we’re still young, you gotta remember that. Even though this is a great tradition, the great job (former Head Coach Tom) Burns did in the past with three (D-10 championships) in a row, this is still new for us.
“We just settled in, we got great leadership and we played good defense,” Mele continued.
The Lady Redbirds recorded only 3 third-period points, misfiring on 11 of 12 floor shots while committing a handful of miscues.
Madison Bernarding bucketed a game-high 21 points for Cochranton and Kassidy Dickson delivered a game-high 11 rebounds and Morghan Egli snared 7. However Cochranton committed 9 second-half miscues and the Lady Redbirds recorded 17 in all.
An emotional Mele admitted,
“I couldn’t be prouder of these kids. ... It doesn’t get much better than this, obviously, but this is only one of our goals. Our next goal is a state title, and that’s what we’re gonna go after.”
Notes: Kennedy Catholic connected on only 13 of 43 field-goal attempts (30.2 percent), but converted 22 of 30 free-throw tries (73.4), compared with Cochranton’s cumulative totals of 14 for 52 (26.9) and 10 for 14 (71.4), respectively. ... Led by Kassidy Dickson, Egli and Bernarding (5), Cochranton KO’d Kennedy on the boards, 44-32. ... KC’s lone senior, Taylor Hood, had a 6-point, 4-rebound, 2-assist contribution, while Fusco finished with 4 dimes. Kendall Dickson dished out a game-high 5 assists and Egli and Abby Clulow collected 4 apiece for Head Coach Gary Egli.
DISTRICT 10 CLASS A CHAMPIONSHIP
COCHRANTON 10 12 3 13 38
KENNEDY 8 8 11 22 49
COCHRANTON — Bernarding 9-3-4-21, Kendall Dickson 2-5-6-9, Egli 2-0-0-4, Clulow 0-0-2-0, Kassidy Dickson 1-2-2-4, Vincent 0-0-0-0, Wagner 0-0-0-0, O’Donnell 0-0-0-0. Totals: 14-10-14-38.
KENNEDY CATHOLIC — Hood 2-2-2-6, Kress 2-9-11-14, Bocian 6-6-8-18, Kish 2-3-4-7, O’Brien 0-0-0-0, Fusco 0-2-5-2, Zacherl 1-0-0-2, Shannonhouse 0-0-0-0. 3-pt. goal: Kress 1. Totals: 13-22-30-49.