By Rob Malsom
Herald Sports Writer
MERCER COUNTY —
Who: Sharpsville (18-8) vs. Burrell (23-3).
What: PIAA playoffs, 2nd round.
When: 6 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Slippery Rock University's Morrow Field House.
Players to Watch: Sharpsville - McKenzie Popatak, 5-9 Sr. (21.4 ppg.); Megan Davis, 5-8 Jr. (10.8); Natalie Henwood (4.5); Kayla Kurelko, 5-5 Soph. (3.4); Maddie Przicina, 5-6 Soph. (2.4); Paige Scurpa, 5-9 Sr. (2.3). Burrell - Sydney Bordonaro, 5-7 Soph. (16.5); Natalie Myers, 5-11 Fr. (10.7); Kelsey Oddis, 5-7 Jr.; Jaila Manga, 5-8 Jr.; Erika Finn, 5-8 Soph.; Jessica Cercone, 6-1 Jr.
Bonus Shots: Sharpsville skipper Jeff Hanley (12th year, 186-112) got his 1st-ever PIAA playoff win with a 38-32 victory over District 9 champion Brookville on Friday at Clarion University. Popatak rifled in 20 points and Henwood drained 2 huge treys for 6 points and came up with several big rebounds. ... Brookville started the season with a 4-10 record, but got hot at the right time and had knocked out the top 3 seeds in the D-9 Class AA playoffs in Kane (1st), Karns City (2nd) and Cranberry (3rd). ... Hanley's last appearance in a state playoff game was in his 1st year as coach (2001-02) when his Blue Darlings fell to Cameron County (57-49) in overtime at Clarion U. ... Popatak is the school's all-time girls scoring leader with 1,680 points. She surpassed Kasey Gardner's 2008 mark of 1,440 earlier this season. ... Popatak trails Lakeview's Sheena Aden (2,421), Sharon's Wanda Holloway (2,106), Farrell's Jill Platteborze (1,913), Hickory's Julie Fornadel (1,702) and Sharon's Brittany Csatlos (1,697) among Mercer County area girls scorers. ... The Blue Darlings' losses this season have come against Cranberry (51-39), Grove City (31-23), Slippery Rock (49-36), Kennedy Catholic (67-40), North East (49-30 and 42-38), Girard (51-37), Sharon (54-39). ... Sharpsville ousted Seneca (34-29) in the District 10 quarterfinals, fell to North East (42-38) in the semis and then qualified for the PIAA playoffs by beating Mercer (48-29) in the consolation game. ... Last year, Sharpsville was ousted in the D-10 quarterfinals by Seneca (51-46). ... Meghan Ziemianski (2nd year) is a 2000 Burrell graduate and coaches the Buccaneers. Her dad, Mark, is her assistant. He coached Burrell when she was a senior. Meghan previously coached at Highlands for 4 seasons and led them to WPIAL Class AAA playoff appearances all 4 years. ... Burrell ousted D-6 runner-up Bellwood Antis, 65-46, on Friday at Plum High School in the 1st round of the PIAAs. Burrell led 10-6 after the 1st quarter, 27-21 at halftime and 41-36 after 3 before outscoring Antis 24-10 in the final frame. Bordonaro rifled in 27 points while Myers had 16. ... Burrell went 10-0 to finish 1st in WPIAL Section 1-AA. They beat Carlynton (47-23) in the 1st round of the WPIAL playoffs, ousted McGuffey (61-41) in the quarters and got crushed by eventual WPIAL champion Bishop Canevin (56-33) in the semifinals. ... Their other 2 losses were against Shaler (47-36) in the title tilt of the Hampton Christmas Tourney and Keystone Oaks (43-40) back on Jan. 18. ... They were on a 12-game winning streak heading into the WPIAL semis, which included impressive wins over Indiana, Mount Pleasant, Knoch and North Catholic. ... This year is unprecedented at Burrell High, which is known as a wrestling powerhouse (7 WPIAL titles) as the boys team played in the WPIAL title game (lost to Beaver Falls) for the 1st time since 1979 (they were ousted by Bishop McCort in the 1st round of the PIAAs) and the girls made the D-7 semis for the 1st time since 1994. ... Burrell had the best defense in the WPIAL during the regular season, only allowing 28.6 ppg. with their stifling man-to-man defense. ... Burrell was 18-5 last year and lost in the 1st round of the WPIAL playoffs. ... The game will be broadcast on SportsRadio 96.7 (WLLF FM) with Ryan Briggs and Chris Burtch calling the action beginning at 5:30 p.m.
Who: Kennedy Catholic (23-2) vs. Port Allegany (22-4).
What: PIAA playoffs, 2nd round.
When: 6 p.m. Wednesday.
Where: Clarion University's Waldo S. Tippin Gymnasium.
Players to Watch: Kennedy Catholic - Alex Ricketts, 5-11 Sr. (17.3 ppg.); Courtney Sargent, 6-2 Sr. (13.1); Rachel Burns, 5-10 Sr. (11.0); Taylor Hood, 5-7 Jr. (7.4); Rebekah Kish, 5-7 Soph. (7.0); April Bocian, 6-2 Fr. (5.5). Port Allegany - Becca Lathrop, 5-9 Jr. (16.7); Brooke Roys, 6-0 Soph. (7.7); Somer Buchsenschutz, 5-6 Soph. (7.2); Gabby Drabert, 5-8 Sr. (5.6); Krista Miller, 5-5 Jr. (3.7); Lynae Delacour, 5-7 Soph. (3.5).
Bonus Shots: Kennedy Catholic coach Tom Burns (6th year, 113-34) led his Lady Golden Eagles to an impressive opening-round win in the state playoffs Saturday with a 45-36 win vs. North Catholic. Ricketts scored 17, Sargent bucketed 14 and Bocian came off the bench and grabbed 11 rebounds and had several blocks for KC, which led 24-12 at halftime. The Lady Golden Eagles limited NC star Lauren Wolosik, who is headed to Div. I Central Connecticut University, to 11 points. ... North Catholic and Vincentian Academy are the kingpins of WPIAL Class A while KC rules District 10. NC played in the state championship game last season, but lost to Steelton Highspire (66-59) at Penn State's Bryce Jordan Center. ... KC has won 17 District 10 championships. Burns has led them to 4 of them, including 3 in a row. ... KC had a bye in the opening round of the D-10 playoffs, beat Commodore Perry (68-28) in the semifinals and defeated Cochranton (67-45) for the title. ... KC has outscored their opponents 1,519 to 775 (744 point differential) this year. ... KC's 2 losses are against Franklin (62-45) in the season-opening Franklin Tipoff Tourney and Vincentian Academy (70-53) in the Penn State-Beaver Holiday Tourney title tilt. Franklin just won its 2nd straight D-10 Class AAA title while VA copped its 2nd straight (3rd in 4 years) WPIAL crown. ... Ricketts, who will play college hoops for the Zips at Div. I Akron University, has 1,382 career points while Burns has 1,062. ... In the PIAAs last year, KC beat Riverview (59-30) and Clarion Area (59-43) before falling to Vincentian (56-51) in the western region semifinals. ... KC's last appearance in a PIAA title game was in 2001 under former coach Father Rick Tomasone when the locals edged Pottsville Nativity BVM (48-46) at Hersheypark Arena. ... Coach Kristina Francis' (9th year, 125-96) Lady Gators of Port Allegany beat Penns Manor, the 3rd seed out of District 6, in the 1st round of the PIAAs Saturday at Pitt-Bradford. Lathrop scored 22 in PA's 52-45 win and Buchsenschutz had 10. ... PA's 4 losses are to Wyalusing in their season-opener at the Cowanesque Valley Tourney, St. Marys, Kane (who lost to Brookville in the D-9 Class AA title game) and to Clarion Area (56-41) in the Class A title game. ... They beat Venango Catholic (45-35) in the D-9 quarterfinals and Keystone (55-48) in the semis. Lathrop had 19 points vs. VC and a career-high 26 and 18 rebounds vs. defending champion Keystone, which played without their 2 top scorers in sisters Morgan and Madison Johnson (both torn ACLs). ... PA turned the ball over 31 times in the loss to Clarion Area for the D-9 crown. They had won 19 straight before that game. Roys (13) and Lathrop (12) scored in double digits. It was Clarion's 1st D-9 title since 1992 and was the Lady Gators' 1st title game appearance since they won the AA title in 1997. They've never won a Class A crown in 4 tries. The last attempt was in 1996 when they lost to Coudersport. ... PA started the season 2-3. They lost to Kane on Dec. 19and then reeled off that big winning streak. ... This is PA's 1st trip to the state playoffs since 2006. ... The game will be broadcast on NewsTalk 790 (WOIC AM) with Mark Slezak and Bob Greenburg on mike, beginning at 5:30 p.m. ... by Rob Malsom, Herald sports writer