The Sharpsville and Hickory girls basketball teams advanced to the PIAA playoffs on Saturday by winning consolation games.
Sharpsville beat Mercer for the 3rd time this season, 48-29, at Farrell High School to advance to the Class AA playoffs while Hickory defeated Mercyhurst Prep, 50-43, in Class AAA at Meadville Area Senior High School’s “House of Thrills.”
Following are staff reports:
CLASS AA CONSOLATION
ä Sharpsville 48, Mercer 29 — At Farrell’s E.J. McCluskey Gymnasium, the Blue Darlings defeated Mercer for the 3rd time this season; thereby, Sharpsville secured a PIAA playoff berth as the district’s 3rd seed.
“Wow, this feels great!” admitted veteran Sharpsville skipper Jeff Hanley. “We had a couple nice practices after we lost to North East (42-38 in the semifinals), and I was proud with how they responded.
“The girls were confident, and they were led by our seniors. ... They played great defense (coercing 18 Mercer miscues) and followed what we wanted to do on offense really well,” Hanley added.
One of Hanley’s senior stalwarts, McKenzie Popatak, produced a game-high 30-point, 11-rebound double-double.
From the paint Popatak pumped in 10 first-period points while Mercer made 7 miscues and missed 8 of 10 floor shots, as Sharpsville surged to a 15-5 lead. With Popatak producing 8 second-period points and Mercer mustering only 2 — the Lady M’s drought lasted approximately 10 minutes, as Megan McKinney scored with 68 seconds remaining to intermission — the Blue Darlings derived a 23-7 halftime bulge.
Popatak and Megan Davis, with 8 and 6 points, respectively, staked Sharpsville to a 37-20 lead through 3 quarters, though Lexie Arkwright annexed 6 of her team-high 14 points. Arkwright added 10 rebounds for a double-double.
In addition to Popatak, Davis drilled 2 treys and scored 9 points while snaring 7 caroms; Paige Scurpa — whose defense limited leading scorer Arkwright to 3 first-half points on only 4 shots — and Madison Przicina evenly divided a dozen rebounds, and Natalie Henwood handed out 7 assists. Scurpa added 3, also.
Sharpsville (17-8) started the season 2-5, but Hanley assessed,
“We felt pretty good. The start wasn’t important. The first region (2-AA) game was Middlesex, and that was the important thing. Once we got rolling in our region and felt more confident and comfortable, I thought we were in good shape.”
The Blue Darlings have won 15 of their last 18 outings.
Meanwhile, Mercer (17-8) made a complete turnabout from last season. Second-year Lady’s M mentor Aaron Cook said,
“I gotta give it to Sharpsville; they outplayed us in every aspect. But the bottom line is I am not disappointed at all. We went from 6-16 to 17-8, and the transformation was unbelievable!. It happened in the offseason.
“The future’s bright for us. If we work hard, we’re gonna give people some fits next year,” Cook confided, noting he loses a pair of seniors in Ashley Ryder and Analise Whenry.
“Analise Whenry was absolutely dynamic. I had her the last two years — same with Ashley Ryder. Ashley played very consistent, and Analise played big for us, ’cause we didn’t have height. Both of them had to be our height and our strength, and we’re gonna miss ’em next year because of that,” Cook praised.
CLASS AAA CONSOLATION
ä Hickory 50, Mercyhurst Prep 43 — At Meadville Area Senior High’s “House of Thrills,” coach Jeanette Whitehead’s Lady Hornets (21-4) advanced to the state playoffs with the win against the Lady Lakers (16-9).
Hickory led 17-12 after the 1st quarter, 28-19 at halftime and took its biggest lead (12 points) midway through the 3rd quarter. But Mercyhurst Prep closed the quarter on a 10-0 run to cut Hickory’s lead to 37-35.
At the start of the 4th, Prep’s Emily Stoicovy drained a 3-pointer to give the Lady Lakers their 1st lead of the game (38-37). However Hickory’s Holly Grober took charge and scored her team’s first 9 points of the quarter and Nikki Arbanas buried 4 key foul shots in the final minute to put the game away.
Arbanas fired in 22 points and had 7 rebounds, 4 steals and 3 assists for Hickory, while Grober scored 18 and grabbed 6 boards, dished out 3 assists and had 2 blocks. Also, Megan Chess and Brandi Beader had 3 steals each.
“After losing in the semis (to Villa Maria), we knew it was a do-or-die situation to get to the state games,” said Whitehead. I thought we came out focused, ready and determined.
“I take my hat off to the girls. They played a solid game on both ends of the floor. Every second counted for those girls on the floor, and we had great contributions off the bench from Shawna Moore and Jenna Placzek. We also had great defense from Beader, Chess and Jasmine Shephard to help maintain that balance with Nikki and Holly’s scoring. If we can deliver that balance, we are certainly a team to be reckoned with.”
Stoicovy led Mercyhurst Prep with 9 points while Chloé Wright bucketed 8. Brenna Robbins, a Division I Longwood University (Va.) recruit had 7 points for the Lady Lakers.
Hickory will play WPIAL Class AAA champion South Park (23-2) on Saturday at a site and time to be determined. South Park beat Elizabeth Forward (50-32) Saturday for the title at Duquesne University’s A.J. Palumbo Center.
DISTRICT 10 CONSOLATION GAMES
SHARPSVILLE 15 8 14 11 48
MERCER 5 2 13 9 29
SHARPSVILLE — Henwood 1-1-4-3, Davis 3-1-1-9, Popatak 13-2-4-30, Scurpa 0-3-4-3, Przicina 1-1-2-3, Kurelko 0-0-1-0, Davies 0-0-0-0, Sloan 0-0-0-0, Schell 0-0-0-0, Falconi 0-0-0-0, Shoemaker 0-0-0-0. 3-pt. goals: Davis 2, Popatak 2. Totals: 18-8-16-48.
MERCER — Arkwright 4-5-7-14, Cook 1-0-0-3, Ryder 0-0-0-0, Mills 1-0-0-2, Whenry 0-0-2-0, Angermeier 1-1-2-3, McKinney 2-1-2-5, Zacherl 0-0-0-0, Fisher 0-0-0-0, Ferguson 0-1-2-1, Garrett 0-0-0-0, Shoemaker 0-1-2-1, McCann 0-0-0-0. 3-pt. goals: Arkwright 1, Cook 1. Totals: 9-9-17-29.
HICKORY 17 11 9 13 50
MERCY. PREP 12 7 16 8 43
HICKORY — Placzek 0-0-2-0, Arbanas 4-13-14-22, Chess 1-2-3-4, Moore 1-0-0-2, Shephard 0-0-0-0, Beader 2-0-0-4, Grober 6-6-7-18. 3-pt. goal: Arbanas 1. Totals: 14-21-26-50.
MERCYHURST PREP — Robbins 2-2-2-7, Chrzanowski 1-3-4-5, Popoff 1-0-0-3, Steiner 1-0-0-2, Stoicovy 3-2-4-9, Wright 3-2-2-8, Woll 3-0-0-7, Shopene 1-0-0-2. 3-pt. goals: Robbins 1, Popoff 1, Stoicovy 1, Woll 1. Totals: 15-9-12-43.
The Sharpsville and Hickory girls basketball teams advanced to the PIAA playoffs on Saturday by winning consolation games.
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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