It’s a rematch of a rematch.
That’s the story for the Kennedy Catholic Lady Golden Eagles when it comes to colliding with Vincentian Academy Saturday in the PIAA Western Regional Semifinals.
Kennedy, which downed Port Allegany, 70-21, Wednesday evening at Clarion University, will face their nemesis in that key clash for second straight season. Vincentian topped KC in the western semis last year, 56-51, then in a rematch earlier this year the WPIAL champions again beat the Lady Golden Eagles, 70-53.
Vincentian beat Berlin-Brothersvalley, 44-42, at the buzzer Wednesday at Hempfield High School in Greensburg as the No. 3 team out of District 5 nearly pulled off a huge upset over Vincentian.
The Wednesday game at Clarion against the Lady Gators wasn’t much of a test, just a slight warm-up for Saturday.
“I’m really proud of my girls,” said KC coach Tom Burns. “They’re clicking on all 8 cylinders now. The defense speaks for itself. They are a lot more disciplined on defense than the start of the year.
“I’m willing to give them some freedom on offense if they’re playing strong defense. We’re playing team basketball and I’m really proud of my team as a unit.”
That “unit” dominated every area of the game. The full-court pressure was too much for the District 9 runners-up to handle as the Lady Golden Eagles forced 7 turnovers in the opening quarter and burst out to a 21-5 lead. KC was in control on the boards and Port Allegany had no answer for 6-foot-2 Courtney Sargent inside or the shooting of Alex Ricketts from the perimeter.
The KC lead actually could have been even bigger as they missed several inside bunnies, making only 9 of 22 shots in the period. Plus they missed on 4 of 6 free throws.
Kennedy led by 39-14 by halftime as Ricketts had 15 points and Sargent 12. By then the game was pretty much out of reach as the Lady Golden Eagles forced 6 more turnovers in that second stanza.
There was no waking up from this nightmare for the toothless Gators. In the third period they were outscored 20-1. In fact, their first field goal of the second half came with 5:52 remaining in the contest.
For the game, Kennedy (24-2) forced 29 miscues. Ricketts, bound for Akron U., led the point-production with 21 points, including 5 treys.
Sargent added 17 points. Rachel Burns tallied 9 markers while she, Taylor Hood and Tatum Kress worked the ball well to set up the big two guns on the night. Gabrielle Drabert had 8 points to pace PA, which finished the season at 22-5.
“I didn’t expect the game to get away as fast as it did,” said Burns. “We weren’t scoring early, but our defensive pressure was doing the job on the other end.
“We have to control the glass from here on out. Courtney was a moose tonight inside. We’ll need to be in control against Vincentian.”
Sargent didn’t play in the earlier season game against the perennial Pittsburgh-area power, missing the first six contests of the year. But she should provide a big boost this time around. And the close loss in the western semis last year came with Rachel Burns, the team’s second highest scorer behind Ricketts, sidelined by an injury.
“We’re healthy now and we’re ready to go,” Burns said.
Nobody who watched the team Wednesday at Clarion could argue with that!
PIAA CLASS A PLAYOFFS
KENNEDY 21 18 20 11 70
P. ALLEGANY 5 9 1 6 21
KENNEDY CATHOLIC — Ricketts 8-0-0-21, Sargent 7-3-6-17, Burns 4-0-1-9, Hood 2-4-5-8, Kish 2-1-2-6, Bocain 0-1-2-1, O’Brien 0-2-2-2, Yacoub 1-0-0-2, Kress 2-0-0-4, Scoccia 0-0-0-0, Volkay 0-0-0-0. 3-pt. goals: Ricketts 5, Burns 1, Kish 1. Totals: 26-11-18-70.
PORT ALLEGANY — Lathrop 1-1-4-3, Roys 2-1-2-5, Buchsenschutz 1-0-0-2, Drabert 3-2-4-8, Miller 0-0-0-0, Delacour 0-0-0-0, Johnson 1-1-2-3. Totals: 8-5-12-21.
It’s a rematch of a rematch.
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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