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.
LAKEVIEW 42, GROVE CITY 38
113 - Adam Dosch (L) won by forfeit; 120 - Jazmin Johnson (L) won by forfeit; 126 - Kenny Bable (GC) dec Jake Heim (L) 7-3; 132 - Ryan Grace (GC) pinned Trevor Williams (L) 4:56; 138 - Shane McGee (GC) won by forfeit; 145 - Jared Sample (GC) pinned Brandon Persch (L) 3:00; 152 - Trey Maher (GC) tech. fall Jake Adams (L) 16-1; 160 - Chet Simoni (GC) pinned Marty Baughman (L) 0:19; 170 - Marquis Spence (L) pinned D’Andre Byers (GC) 2:19; 182 - Kyle Canon (L) won by forfeit; 195 - Andrew Clayton (L) won by forfeit; 220 - Stephen Boyle (GC) pinned Marcus Bowser (L) 1:41; 285 - Sam Breese (L) pinned Austin Stelene (GC) 0:16; 106 - Evan Clayton (L) pinned Chad Bable (GC) 0:25.
HICKORY 12 17 16 16 61
SHARON 17 9 2 11 39
HICKORY — Arbanas 8-1-1-19, Placzek 4-4-5-12, Grober 6-3-5-15, LaCava 2-0-0-4, Chess 1-2-6-4, Beader 2-3-4-7, White 0-0-0-0, Zreliak 0-0-0-0. 3-pt. goals: Arbanas 2. Totals: 23-13-21-61.
SHARON — Mal. Torr 2-0-0-5, Chester 1-1-2-3, Sanders 6-3-6-15, Jacoway 2-0-0-4, Dabney 4-0-0-10, Smith 1-0-0-2, Mag. Torr 0-0-0-0, Reed 0-0-0-0. 3-pt. goals: Dabney 2, Mal. Torr 1. Totals: 16-4-8-39.
JV — Sharon, 33-28. Tamia Hopson 8, Kelsie McGranahan 7 points for Sharon; Lexi Bible, Shawna Moore 6 apiece for Hickory.
GREENVILLE 6 10 9 2 27
SHARPSVILLE 19 9 12 8 48
GREENVILLE — Fagley 2-0-2-4, Burnett 7-2-2-17, Holder 3-0-0-6, Marini 0-0-0-0, D’Alfonso 0-0-0-0, WIlliams 0-0-0-0, Herrick 0-0-0-0, Montalvo 0-0-0-0, Guerrini 0-0-0-0, Leary 0-0-0-0. 3-pt. goal: Burnett 1. Totals: 12-2-4-27.
SHARPSVILLE — Davis 3-0-0-8, Przicina 1-0-0-2, Popatak 10-7-10-27, Henwood 2-0-1-4, Kurelko 2-1-2-7, Whalen 0-0-0-0, Davies 0-0-0-0, Scurpa 0-0-0-0, Schell 0-0-0-0. 3-pt. goals: Davis 2, Kurelko 2. Totals: 18-8-13-48.
JV — Sharpsville, 26-22. Eugena Davies 11 for Sharpsville.
MERCER 16 10 15 9 50
W. MIDDLESEX 3 15 12 6 36
MERCER — Whenry 1-0-0-2, Arkwright 4-3-4-13, McKinney 3-2-3-8, Mills 4-0-0-10, Cook 6-0-0-15, Ryder 1-0-0-2. 3-pt. goals: Cook 3, Arkwright 2, Mills 2. Totals: 19-5-7-50.
WEST MIDDLESEX — Murray 2-0-2-4, Atterholt 2-0-1-4, Stitt 2-1-2-6, Summers 3-3-4-11, Pierce 0-1-2-1, White 3-2-2-10. 3-pt. goals: Summers 2, White 2, Stitt 1. Totals: 12-7-13-36.
JV — Mercer, 38-24. Taylor Zacherl 11, Melissa Shoemaker 11 for Mercer. Morgan Atterholt 20 for WM.
REYNOLDS 10 6 8 9 33
WILMINGTON 6 8 8 13 35
REYNOLDS — Burnworth 2-1-2-5, Bresnan 1-1-2-3, Stoyer 4-0-0-8, Ringer 3-0-0-7, Napodano 2-1-2-6, Thompson 2-0-0-4, McDanel 0-0-0-0, Babcock 0-0-0-0. 3-pt. goals: Ringer 1, Napodano 1. Totals: 14-3-6-33.
WILMINGTON — Christofferson 1-3-4-5, Slonaker 5-0-0-10, Sikora 0-5-6-5, Marett 4-0-0-8, Thompson 1-1-4-3, Drake 1-2-2-4, Williams 0-0-0-0. Totals: 12-11-16-35.
JV — Wilmington, 18-11.
LAKEVIEW 5 5 2 11 23
WILMINGTON 10 17 6 12 45
LAKEVIEW — Stringer 3-6-8-13, Foster 2-0-0-4, Fischer 1-0-0-2, Holland 0-0-6-0, Davis 1-0-0-2, McKean 1-0-0-2, Adams 0-0-0-0, Scott 0-0-0-0, Womer 0-0-0-0. 3-pt. goal: Stringer 1. Totals: 8-6-14-23.
WILMINGTON — Christofferson 4-0-0-8, Slonaker 4-1-3-9, Sikora 6-0-0-12, Marett 2-1-2-5, Thompson 2-1-1-5, Drake 3-0-0-6, Borowicz 0-0-0-0, Williams 0-0-0-0, McCown 0-0-0-0, Romeo 0-0-0-0. Totals: 21-3-6-45.
JV — Lakeview won. No score reported.
FARRELL 4 11 4 12 31
CONNEAUT 16 12 13 12 53
FARRELL — Scott 2-0-0-4, Oatis 1-0-0-2, Avery 3-2-2-8, Chambers 1-0-0-2, Gambill 3-0-0-6, Page 1-0-1-2, Sharper 1-0-0-2, Washington 1-0-0-2, Murray 1-1-3-3. Totals: 14-3-6-31.
CONNEAUT AREA — Krider 1-2-2-4, Litwiler 5-1-4-11, Baker 11-2-4-24, Scott 1-0-2-2, Litwin 2-0-4-5, Shidemantle 4-0-1-8, Clement 0-0-1-0. 3-pt. goal: Litwin 1. Totals: 24-5-17-53.
JV — No score reported.
BROOKFIELD 16 21 16 19 72
McDONALD 5 18 19 2 44
BROOKFIELD — Ji. Quinlan 1-0-0-2, Harkulich 10-2-4-22, Dickson 5-0-0-11, Je. Quinlan 9-2-2-21, Mosora 3-0-0-7, Tarver 0-2-2-2, Wallace 2-1-2-5, Pratts 0-0-0-0, Smoot 0-0-0-0, Johnson 0-0-0-0, Sims 1-0-0-2. 3-pt. goals: Dickson 1, Je. Quinlan 1, Mosora 1. Totals: 31-7-10-72.
McDONALD — Pugh 0-0-0-0, Politano 3-1-4-7, Rusinowski 5-0-0-10, Rockard 0-0-0-0, Smith 1-0-0-2, Kunkel 2-0-0-4, Conley 0-2-4-2, Wertz 0-0-0-0, Greaver 4-1-1-9, Seitz 5-0-3-10. Totals: 20-4-12-44.
JV — Brookfield, 48-47. Nate Johnson 14 for Brookfield. Matt Fedyski 14 for McDonald.
Shooting slumps sabotage squads every season, but the best teams’ defense and rebounding never take a night off.
Breese defends heavyweight title at PIAA Championships
HERSHEY, Pa. — Move over Rod Wright!
Lakeview senior heavyweight star Sam Breese had a goal coming into the PIAA State Class AA Wrestling Championships this weekend at Hershey Giant Center — besides winning a second state crown, that is.
WM knocks off Neshannock in PIAA playoffs
SLIPPERY ROCK — The notion of Trey Staunch sneaking up on opposing teams is laughable. At 6-foot-3 and approximately 225 pounds, the stout Staunch is not sneaking up on anyone.
However after posting a game-high 31-point, 18-rebound performance in West Middlesex High basketball team’s 76-66 PIAA Class AA playoffs opening-round win over Neshannock Saturday night, Staunch said opponents may have been overlooking the Big Reds.
Hickory girls 26-0, oust Johnstown
SLIPPERY ROCK — At Morrow Field House Saturday evening, the Hickory Lady Hornets kept the perfect season alive with a 63-37 state playoff first round win over the Greater Johnstown Trojans from District 6.
“It feels great to get the win (Saturday),” said veterans Hickory coach Jeanette Whitehead. “We’ve been at this place over the last few years and we’ve been sent home in the first round so it was a huge win for us. I’m very proud of our team effort."
KC girls roll past California in PIAA playoffs
SLIPPERY ROCK — Kennedy Catholic High girls’ basketball team was in the ’hood Saturday afternoon.
Led by senior Taylor Hood, the Lady Golden Eagles eased past California, 53-34, in the opening round of the PIAA Class A playoffs.
Lakeview's Breese to defend PIAA title
HERSHEY, Pa. — If you are Major League Baseball player, a .333 batting average is great. But in wrestling at the state tournament — not so much!
Out of the dozen wrestlers that Mercer County sent to Hershey for the PIAA State Class AA Wrestling Championships, only four (.333) will reach the medal stand today — led by Lakeview senior Sam Breese who shoots for a second straight gold medal.
Farrell edges Montour, 60-57, in PIAA opener
Montour High boys’ basketball coach Adam Kaufman lamented another season-ending setback. However there are several hundred coaches across the Commonwealth who envy his program’s recent success and would trade places with him in a heartbeat.
But during Friday night’s PIAA Class AAA playoff opener, Kaufman & Co. could not overcome those streaky Steelers ... those survivin’ Steelers.
“ ... Hey, survive and move on,” summarized Steelers’ skipper Roland Shannonhouse following Farrell’s 60-57 win at Sharon High.
GCC ousts Mercer in 1st round of PIAAs
The Mercer Lady Mustangs were outscored 16-4 in the final quarter of the first round of the state playoffs by the Greensburg Central Catholic Centurions, ending their season Friday night 56-31 at Sharon High School.
Senior Lexie Arkwright had a 20-point, 10-rebound double-double performance for the Lady M’s. She also snagged three steals. Adelyn Cook and Haylie Glass each added 4 points for Mercer.
5 area matmen to quarterfinals in Hershey
HERSHEY — Mercer County matmen had mixed results on the opening day of action in the PIAA State Class AA Wrestling Championships at the Giant Center.
Only 5 of the county’s dozen entries — led by defending state champ Sam Breese of Lakeview (285) — won their preliminary matches to move into the tournament quarterfinals which begin at 9 a.m. today. However the other 7 lost their first matches, although 3 are still alive in the consolations heading into this morning’s action.
Coach Chad Mild's Big Reds are road warriors
West Middlesex High boys basketball team did not play its first home game until after the first of the year, but competing at New Castle, Farrell and Youngstown’s Covelli Centre has served it well.
Witness West Middlesex’s 55-54 win over Fairview in last weekend’s District 10 Class AA championship game — at Edinboro University’s McComb Field House.
Boys PIAA basketball preview boxes
Who: Farrell (22-3) vs. Montour (16-8).
What: Opening round.
When: 7:30 p.m. today.
Where: Sharon High’s Tiger Gymnasium.
Hickory, Mercer, KC girls PIAA playoff boxes
Who: Hickory (25-0) vs. Greater Johnstown (11-14).
What: PIAA Playoffs, 1st round.
When: 5:30 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Slippery Rock University.
Shannonhouse's Steelers set for statewide stage
With the approaching spring, a young man’s fancy turns to ... what else? The PIAA playoffs. And when Shenango Valley scholastic basketball aficionados think of the postseason they think of Farrell.
Recently at E.J. McCluskey Gymnasium, the banners above were blowing in the breeze — ’52 ... ’54 ... ’56 ... ’59 ... ’60 ... ’69 ... ’72 — swaying as sprinting players created a vacuum of air rising from the floor. Melodramatic maybe, but there’s a feeling at Farrell that harkens back to the heyday when playoff success was a rite of passage.
Breese eyes repeat at state mat tourney
There is no doubt that winning a state championship in wrestling is a difficult thing to do. Winning two is even tougher.
“There’s a target on your chest,” pointed out Lakeview High coach Tom Tingley in preseason this year, referring to his star wrestler Sam Breese who won a state heavyweight crown as a junior last year.
Obviously that target hasn’t bothered the Sailors big man who is a perfect 32-0 this season as he attempts to become only the 12th Mercer County matman to win multiple titles.
WRESTLING NOTEBOOK: It's a young group of county matmen headed to state
THERE’S definitely a youth movement in Mercer County wrestling as demonstrated by the group of 11 matmen who are advancing to the PIAA State Class AA Championships on Thursday.
Eight of the locals are underclassmen. The only seniors are Lakeview’s Sam Breese (285), Reynolds’ Levi Stoyer (145) and Jamestown’s Mohamed Messai (182).
Breese and Stoyer are the only returning state place-winners. Breese, who has verbally committed to Kent State University to wrestle next season, won the heavyweight class and is seeking a second gold medal. Stoyer placed 7th at 145 and wants to climb much higher on the medals stand.
Kennedy boys forfeit win, are out of playoffs
The PIAA basketball playoffs do not begin until Friday, but Mercer County already lost a team.
Kennedy Catholic High disclosed Monday the discovery of an academically-ineligible player, who competed in last Friday’s District 10 Class A consolation contest.
Kennedy Catholic edged Eisenhower in double-OT, 66-62, earning a berth in the statewide tournament. The Golden Eagles were to meet District 9 champion Ridgway Friday at Clarion University’s Tippin Gymnasium in the opening round; instead, Eisenhower will represent D-10 as its 3rd-place team.
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