SLIPPERY ROCK — Memo to PIAA Class AA girls’ basketball teams: Beware Burrell High’s Lady Bucs.
Sharpsville learned that during Tuesday night’s Western Regional quarterfinal-round 45-18 setback at Slippery Rock University’s Morrow Field House.
Sydney Bordonaro blesses Burrell with a multi-dimensional point guard, and the Bucs boast size in Jessica Cercone and Natalie Myers. And, for Burrell, the best part is they all three are underclassmen.
A sophomore, Bordonaro bucketed 13 points and distributed 9 assists, while 6-foot-1 junior Cercone swatted 6 first-half Sharpsville shots and another couple during the 2nd half. Also, the 5-11 freshman Myers mustered 10 markers and snared 7 caroms.
The only drawback? Burrell dresses only 8 players, meaning 2nd-year head coach Meghan Ziemianski and her brother, an assistant coach, have to run with the club just so it can scrimmage during practice.
While Burrell (24-3) was bullish against Sharpsville, Ziemianski is looking ahead no further than the next game.
“We don’t look ahead like that. I’m a hockey fan, so I’m superstitious,” admitted Ziemianski, a Burrell alumna (2000). “I’m extremely fortunate, I know. I have a solid eight, and I’ll take a solid eight any day over numbers.”
In the game’s opening sequence a trio of Sharpsville shots went awry, and it served as an omen. Natalie Henwood’s drive with 4:15 remaining in the 1st frame served as Sharpsville’s lone 1st-half field goal, as Burrell burst to leads of 11-3 at the quarter and a 20-3 bulge by the break.
During the 3rd period Megan Davis drilled a pair of treys and McKenzie Popatak produced 4 of her team-high 10 points. But Bordonaro bucketed 5 of her team-high 13 points and Kelsey Oddis added 7 of her 9 during the 2nd half.
The Lady Bucs’ WPIAL-leading defense dominated the Blue Darlings, coercing Sharpsville into a 5-for-43 shooting performance and 18 turnovers.
Following a 2-5 start to the season Sharpsville (18-9) surged to a Region 2-AA championship, 3rd place in District 10, and an opening-round PIAA playoff win.
“You’re gonna have a tough time coming back from three points at the half,” admitted Sharpsville skipper Jeff Hanley. “But the girls fought hard throughout the entire game, and that’s all we could’ve asked of them.
“But it was a great season,” Hanley acknowledged, admitting, “That last locker room talk was hard, though. I love those girls, and everything that they’ve given us this year — it’s been the best in 12 years, and I can’t thank them enough for their work.”
Hanley has to bid adieu to seniors Henwood, Popatak, Paige Scurpa and Megan Whalen. Popatak and Scurpa snared 7 rebounds each, and Popatak concluded her career as Sharpsville’s leading female scorer (1,690) and 6th in all-time Mercer County annals.
“Our seniors ... wow! Since seventh grade I’ve had ’em, and it’s just been a great run for those five, six years. They’re family to me, and I’m gonna miss them a great deal,” Hanley related, continuing,
“You miss everything on the court, but what you really miss is their personalities and sense of humor and smiles, and everything they bring to you as an individual, and everything they bring to your team. It was the fourth quarter, yet we were going for blocks and diving on the floor for loose balls, trying to rebound, trying to push it down the court.
“Only one team in double-A wins their last game,” Hanley mused, “and we knew this day was coming. We wanted to prolong it as much as we possibly could, and we did. We ran into a very good basketball team (Tuesday), but we fought hard and I thank the girls a great deal for all of that.”
PIAA CLASS AA PLAYOFFS
BURRELL 11 9 15 10 45
SHARPSVILLE 3 0 11 4 18
BURRELL — Bordonaro 5-0-1-13, Oddis 4-1-2-9, Cercone 2-1-2-5, Myers 5-0-0-10, Manga 2-0-0-4, Finn 2-0-0-4, Nitowski 0-0-0-0, Brown 0-0-0-0. 3-pt. goals: Bordonaro 3. Totals: 20-2-5-45.
SHARPSVILLE — Henwood 1-0-0-2, Davis 2-0-0-6, Popatak 2-5-6-10, Scurpa 0-0-0-0, Przicina 0-0-0-0, Kurelko 0-0-0-0, Davies 0-0-0-0, Schell 0-0-0-0, Shuttleworth 0-0-0-0. 3-pt. goals: Davis 2, Popatak 1. Totals: 5-5-6-18.
SLIPPERY ROCK — Memo to PIAA Class AA girls’ basketball teams: Beware Burrell High’s Lady Bucs.
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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