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.
GC coach Bell retired — sort of!
You can take the man out of coaching, but you can’t take coaching out of the man.
Former Grove City High football coach Jeff Bell has spent his first few months of retirement hearing the ping of a baseball ricocheting off an aluminum bat instead of clap of shoulder pads coming together.
“My grandson Maddox (Bell) and a few of his friends play on a traveling team, so I’m helping out with that,” said Bell, who retired as the Eagles’ football coach this past winter. “They’re a good group of kids to work with and this is a lot more enjoyable. It’s a lot less stress.
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Snyder, Gordon, Popatak named to All-State team
Grove City High’s David Gordon, Sharpsville’s Greg Popatak and Lakeview’s Logan Snyder recently were named to the Pennsylvania High School Baseball Coaches Association all-state team.
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Little League Tournaments
Sharon won the District 2 Major Division (12-year-olds) Championship, while Greenville 9-10 and West Middlesex 11 teams notched tournament victories in recent action.
Hermitage Brennan Chiropractic won the Mercer County 14-under championship recently.
Following are game reports:
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Professional golf star John Cook has received many honors and awards in his illustrious career, but probably none mean as much as those similar to the one he received Monday afternoon at The First Tee of Sharon.
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