Shooting slumps sabotage squads every season, but the best teams’ defense and rebounding never take a night off.
That’s why Hickory High girls basketball is undefeated.
Despite a 5-point first-quarter deficit, the Lady Hornets handcuffed host Sharon for almost 9 minutes en route to a 61-39 District 10 inter-region rivalry road win Friday night.
“We settled in and played team ball,” assessed Hickory head coach Jeanette Whitehead. “We just had to pull our sleeves up and dig deeper. They came out with a game plan and caught us on our heels early, but we adjusted and settled in.”
Sharon shot 7 for 16 during the 1st frame, and led by Lexie Dabney’s 8 digits the Lady Tigers took a 17-12 lead after 8 minutes.
However Sharon scored just 22 points during the game’s final 24 minutes, connecting on only 9 of 28 floor shots. Additionally, the Lady Tigers turned over the ball 23 times — 19 during the final 3 quarters.
Mallory Torr’s runner with 1:13 remaining in the half — the 2nd in a sequence of 3 lead changes in 40 seconds — staked Sharon to a short-lived 26-25 lead.
But from that segment Sharon did not score another field goal for 8 minutes and 43 seconds — missing all 7 of its 3rd-quarter field-goal attempts — until Dabney banked in a bucket with 7èminutes remaining in the 4th frame, by which time Hickory held a 47-30 lead.
“They’re very a well-oiled machine on defense, I guess you’d say,” 1st-year Lady Tigers’ taskmaster Maria Joseph said of Hickory. “They help, they match up well, their posts are constantly moving, they’re talking. It’s almost like you practice the ‘shell drill’ with them. They’re a really good team, and I give coach (Whitehead) a lot of credit for that.”
Statistically, Hickory (8-0) had an interesting evening. The Lady Hornets hit 23 of 49 floor shots (47 percent) and converted 13 of 21 free throws (62 percent). But during the final frame when it closed out the Lady Tigers, Hickory hit 6 of 9 fielders and 4 of 5 freebies, with Nikki Arbanas and Holly Grober garnering 7 and 6 points, respectively.
Though the Lady Hornets’ post, Grober gave out a game-high 8 assists, to go along with 15 points while snaring 7 rebounds.
“She’s awesome!” Whitehead gushed regarding Grober. “As a matter of fact, that was one of the comments I made at halftime: ‘Hey, you’re doing a nice job ... but we’ve gotta be just a tad bit more selfish,’ taking the ball to the rack ourselves because that extra pass, I thought, at times, was getting us in trouble.
“But we adjusted, and when you take it yourself, it clearly will open up your teammates,” Whitehead added.
Arbanas annexed a game-high 19 points, tossing in 2 treys, while Jenna Placzek produced a 12-point, 10-rebound double-double, Nicole LaCava lent a handful of caroms, and Brandi Beader bounded off the bench to contribute 7 points and 4 boards.
After that opening canto Sharon suffered from personal-foul problems that altered its dribble-drive offense and defensive aggressiveness, Joseph noted.
“Once a couple of our girls got that second (first-half) foul we kind’ve had to back off and change up our game plan. Once we went half-court it kind’ve took us out of our own game,” Joseph assessed, adding, “But I’m proud of them, ’cause they played hard the whole game. Unfortunately, we did get in foul trouble ... and it definitely took a toll on us.”
Despite only 8 touches, Tanayja Sanders scored a team-high 15 points and hauled down 8 rebounds for Sharon (5-3), but ended as one of a quartet of Lady Tigers with at least 4 personals. Also, Dabney deposited 10 points, but connected on only 4 of 18 floor shots, and Kristina Jacoway snared 7 caroms, also, and she and Maggie Torr evenly divided a half-dozen assists.
But Sharon shot only 16 for 45 (35.6) from the field and the Lady Tigers attempted only 8 free throws.
Coming from New Castle, Joseph said of the Sharon-Hickory rivalry,
“It was awesome! The atmosphere was crazy! It was a great experience and I’m looking forward to many more of them.
“We’re taking it day to day,” she said regarding her Lady Tigers. “I ask them every game to go out there and play hard,” Joseph continued, “’cause when you play hard, you never know. Keep playing and let winning take care of itself. I think they’re getting it and I see improvement every game, and that’s all I can ask for.”
Whitehead was impressed with Sharon’s inside-out scheme, but said of her Hornets,
“Our girls are in good shape, and I told them, ‘Four quarters,’ and if we could connect, hopefully we could wear (the Lady Tigers) down. And sometimes by wearing them down make them do some things uncharacteristic of themselves — as we did coming out of the gate.
“But our physical stamina allowed us to play four quarters.
“This game certainly was a good test. Great atmosphere,” Whitehead observed. “And we responded to adversity, the first time we came out trailing. So we were able to show what we were made of. And I was pleased with how we responded.
“There were times, I thought, where we could’ve folded early, but we did not, so I was pleased with that,” Whitehead related. “This is a tune-up for what we’ve got to face, ’cause from here on out it’s (Region 5-AAA) play and you’ve got to bring your best every night.” — By Ed Farrell, Herald assistant sports editor.
ä Sharpsville 48, Greenville 27 — At “The Devil’s Den” in Sharpsville, coach Jeff Hanley’s Blue Darlings (2-0, 4-5) led 19-6 after the opening 8 minutes and rolled past the Lady Trojans (1-1, 2-5) in the Region 2-AA contest.
McKenzie Popatak rifled in 27 points to lead the way for Sharpsville while Paige Scurpa grabbed 8 rebounds and Natalie Henwood dished out 7 assists.
Jessica Burnett bucketed 17 points for Greenville.
ä Mercer 50, West Middlesex 36 — At West Middlesex, the Lady M’s (1-0, 6-3) opened Region 2-AA play with a win over the Ms. Reds (0-2, 3-6).
Adelyn Cook buried 3 treys en route to 15 points for Mercer, Alexis Arkwright scored 13 and Alexis Mills added 10 markers.
Alexis Summers led the way for WM with 11 points and Kristen White registered 10.
ä Wilmington 35, Reynolds 33 — At New Wilmington, the Lady Hounds improved to 3-7 overall with a thrilling 2-point non-region win over the Lady Raiders (2-6).
Sarah Slonaker scored 10 points to pace Wilmington while Rose Stoyer notched 8 for Reynolds.
ä Wilmington 45, Lakeview 23 — At New Wilmington Thursday, Tess Sikora posted a 12-point, 11-rebound double-double in leading the Lady Hounds (1-1 Region 2) past the Lady Sailors (0-2, 2-7) in a Region 2-AA contest.
Casey Stringer scored a game-high 13 points for Lakeview.
ä Conneaut 53, Farrell 31 — At Linesville Thursday, Conneaut Area (7-2) led 16-4 after the opening 8 minutes and went on to post the non-region victory.
Kristen Baker fired in 24 points for Conneaut Area and Challen Litwiler bucketed 11.
Janee Avery led the way for Farrell (6-3) with 8 points.
ä Brookfield 72, McDonald 44 — At McDonald, the Warriors (6-1) jumped out to a 16-5 lead after the opening quarter and rolled past the previously-unbeaten Blue Devils (8-1).
Collin Harkulich fired in 22 points for the Warriors, Jeremy Quinlan bucketed 21 and grabbed 11 rebounds, Derek Dickson scored 11 points, Jimmy Quinlan registered 2 points and dished out 6 assists and Ryan Mosora posted 7 points and had 3 steals.
Christian Rusinowski and Matt Seitz had 10 points each for McDonald.
ä Lakeview 42, Grove City 38 — At Grove City Thursday night in a match that included 5 forfeited weight classes, the visiting Sailors of coach Tom Tingley prevailed.
Notching falls for the Sailors were Evan Clayton (106), Kyle Cannon (182) and Sam Breese (285). For Grove City, Ryan Grace (132), Jared Sample (145), Chet Simoni (160) and Stephen boyle (220) posted falls while Trey Maher (152) had a tech. fall.
Shooting slumps sabotage squads every season, but the best teams’ defense and rebounding never take a night off.
Players relent, agree to play for reinstated football coach
Minnesota State University-Mankato's football team has ended its boycott of reinstated head coach Todd Hoffner, who successfully fought child pornography charges and other misconduct accusations that removed him from the job for 20 months.
Hickory track coaches near finish line
While the Shenango Valley lionizes legendary gridiron greats and hardwood heroes, the sport of track & field at Hickory High has resonated its relevance throughout District 10 and commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
For the better part of the last 3 decades that was due, to a great extent, to the efforts of Barb Dzuricsko and Mark Slezak.
More than 200 dual-meet victories combined between the girls’ and boys’ programs, 9 district championships (7 girls, 2 boys), 2 statewide runners-up berths and another pair of 3rd-place finishes, culminating in the Lady Hornets’ 2012 PIAA Class AA championship.
Their collective resumé would be envied by any coach, regardless of sport. Which makes this recent revelation regrettable: Dzuricsko and Slezak simultaneously will step down at this season’s conclusion.
SPORTVIEW: Cavaliers are example of how an owner impacts a team
WHEN LEBRON James vacated Cleveland for South Beach a few years ago, angry Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert declared that the Cavaliers would win an NBA championship before James and the Miami Heat.
How’s that working out, Dan?
Miami is seeking a third straight title this postseason while the Cavaliers are headed for the golf courses. Pretty sad.
Roundup: Trojans, Hounds win team titles at WM Invitational
Wilmington High girls and Greenville boys dominated the annual Big Red Track & Field Invitational Thursday afternoon in West Middlesex.
A half-dozen girls’ and 7 boys’ teams competed.
Wilmington overwhelmed the female field, as the Lady Greyhounds garnered almost twice as many points as runner-up Lakeview (236-5 to 133.5).
Roundup: WM diamondmen edge Reynolds, 6-4
ä West Middlesex 6, Reynolds 4 — At Transfer, the Big Reds snapped a 4-all tie by plating a run in the 4th inning and another in the 7th in a 2-run win over the Raiders.
Mark Colella earned the mound win in a relief appearance for WM. No pitching stats were submitted.
Roundup: Hickory, Wilmington softball teams win
Paced by Chelsea Marriott’s muscle, Hickory High hammered 4 home runs Saturday afternoon en route to a 19-1 rout of Sharon.
At Wengler, Marriott mauled 2- and 3-run round-trippers to right-center and straightaway center field, respectively. Her Lady Hornets’ teammates Hannah Gallagher and Morgan McBride mustered 3-run bombs, also.
Fired coach in Mankato unjustly accused of visiting porn sites
Minnesota State University-Mankato officials wrongly accused former football coach Todd Hoffner of viewing pornography sites on his work computer before firing him last May, a state arbitrator has disclosed.
Roundup: Hickory track coaches to step down following season
Hickory High track & field co-head coaches Barb Dzuricsko and Mark Slezak announced they will step down at the season’s conclusion.
Dzuricsko and Slezak, who led the Lady Hornets to the 2012 PIAA Class AA crown, jointly made the announcement via e-mail late Wednesday.
Roundup: Devil diamondmen roll past Sharon
An old-school baseball bromide states that, early in any season, pitching is always ahead of hitting. However Sharpsville shunned that axiom Wednesday afternoon.
The Blue Devils banged 15 hits, and Sharpsville short-circuited Sharon, 16-4, in 5 innings.
Roundup: Hounds, Hornets notch track sweeps
ä Wilmington 116, Reynolds 44 — At New Wilmington, the host Lady Hounds were led by Rikki Brumbaugh (4x8, 4x4 relay legs, 400- and 800-meter runs); Hannah Drake (long, triple jumps, 4x4 relay); Allison Baldwin (4x8 and 4x4 relay legs); Lexi Brumbaugh (1600-, 3200-meter runs, distance-relay leg), and Tessa Sikora (high jump, 200-meter dash, sprint-relay anchor).
SPORTVIEW: Pirates, Indians fans looking for big things this year
LIFE IS GOOD if you are a fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates or Cleveland Indians. At least for now!
Heading into Saturday, both teams were 3-1 and looking pretty sharp. Since both made the playoffs last year, there are high expectations for both clubs. But in baseball, every year is a new season and there are no guarantees.
Still, it’s always nice when your favorite teams get off to a good start. In too many seasons, Pittsburgh and Cleveland fans were only talking about the NFL draft because hopes were bleak for their baseball teams.
Hickory's Arbanas 1st team All-State; KC's Hood 3rd team
ALTOONA, Pa. (AP) — Teams from the WPIAL won three of the four PIAA girls basketball championships this year, and southwestern Pennsylvania is turning out to be just as dominant when it comes to postseason honors.
Pittsburgh-area programs produced seven of the eight major award winners on this season’s Sports Writers Pennsylvania High School Girls Basketball All-State Team, including all four players of the year.
WM's Staunch named 2nd team All-State
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Finishing on the winning side in a championship game — or coming mighty, mighty close — scored plenty of points with the panel that selected Pennsylvania’s all-state boys’ basketball team.
Especially when it came time to choose those — whether players or coaches — who claimed the top individual awards.
Roundup: Hickory, Mercer, Reynolds, WM baseball teams earn wins
ä Hickory 12, Sharpsville 10 — At the McCullough Run Complex in South Pymatuning Twp., the visiting Hornets improved to 4-0 with the win.
Brady Leunis went 2-for-3 for Hickory with a double and 3 RBI, Tommy Cannon belted a 2-run homer, Noah Orndorff was 2-for-4, Nate Mastrian ripped an RBI-double, Ethan Davis was 2-for-4 with a double and a run driven in and Jake Andrzjewski doubled.
Roundup: WM, Wilmington, Mercer softball teams win
ä West Middlesex 11, Grove City 1 (5 inn.) — At the Richard J. Kritz Softball Complex in West Middlesex, Jordyn Allen fired a complete-game 2-hitter with 8 strikeouts and no walks as the Ms. Reds (1-1) rebounded from a tough loss to Lakeview on Monday.
Offensively, Allen doubled and ripped 2 singles for WM, Abby McAdams and Aly Andrusky doubled and singled, Macy Siefert collected 4 singles and Hannah Havens, Megan Hazlett and Oivia Slater added 2 singles each.
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