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.
2013-14 hoops season begins with tipoff tourneys
Farrell Julius McCoy Tipoff Tourney
ä Kennedy Catholic 48, Imani Christian Academy 40 — The Golden Eagles set up an all local rematch with host Farrell by pulling away in the fourth quarter in a tight battle.
For KC, Gerald Zachar and Sam Crow each scored 13 points to pace the victory, Brown had 14 and Southerner 12 for Imani.
Brookfield boys win season-opener against Py Valley
It was a typical season-opener: Too many turnovers, some questionable shot selection, and careless personal fouls. But for Brookfield High boys’ bench boss Bill Kovach, “ ... always happy with a win.”
The Warriors were 7-for-10 from the free-throw line during the 4th frame, and held off Pymatuning Valley, 59-48, Tuesday night.
Hornets advance to semis with win over Central
DuBOIS, PA. — Some people could say the “third time is a charm.” For the Hickory High Hornets it was much more than that. In fact, it was glorious.
After losing in the first round of the PIAA Class AA playoffs the last two years, the Hornets finally nailed down a victory with a 37-27 triumph over the Central Dragons from Martinsburg.
Lakeview falls to Clarion Area in PIAA quarterfinals
SLIPPERY ROCK — In the scholastic athletic arena, “mercy rule” — while not politically correct in hyper-sensitive 2013 society — is a relatively accepted term.
Clarion High’s football had mercy-ruled all 13 prior opponents this season. And the Bobcats seemed bent on continuing their commanding conquests during Saturday’s PIAA Class A quarterfinal-round meeting with Lakeview.
Hickory focused on winning PIAA opener
The calendar reminds us that Thanksgiving arrives a little later than usual this year. But as holiday traditions go, this one has been pretty productive for Hickory High head football coach Bill Brest.
“My wife always has me put up our Christmas tree on the Friday after Thanksgiving ... and the next day, we’ve won. So I’ll be more than happy to help my wife put up the tree this Friday,” Brest related.
During the past 2 years Hickory has won District 10 titles on Thanksgiving weekend. But this year the Hornets harvested their 3rd consecutive crown last week, jettisoning Girard (21-10). Now Hickory (11-1) has a 1 p.m. date in DuBois Saturday against surprising Central-Martinsburg (11-2) in the PIAA Class AA quarterfinals.
Smart move by PIAA to schedule games early this weekend
Congratulations to the PIAA for making a good move that helps teams and fans of high school sports.
Wow, I haven’t been able to say that often enough!
But many of the high school football games this coming weekend will be played in the afternoon which is a real plus for traveling on possibly snow-blown highways at this time of the year.
Hornets 3-peat as D-10 champs with win vs. Girard
EDINBORO — When legendary coach Vince Lombardi said “the only good thing that comes from losing is the desire never to lose again,” he could very well have been referencing the future for Coach Bill Brest and his Hickory Hornets.
Since Hickory lost to Sharon, 14-6, in the 2010 District 10 finals in Brest’s first year at the helm of the team, the D-10 Class AA title game has belonged to Hickory. And Saturday afternoon at Edinboro University’s Sox Harrison Stadium, it was no different as the Hornets topped Girard, 21-10 for a third straight crown.
Sailors beat Devils to capture 1st District 10 title
NEW WILMINGTON — Lakeview may have a long way to go to equal Sharpsville’s success in the sport of football, but the Sailors jump-started the process Friday night.
With Blake Reddick roaring into the record book, the Sailors shut out Sharpsville, 27-0, in the District 10 Class A championship game at Greyhounds Stadium.
Hornets seek 3-peat Saturday vs. Girard
Bill Brest ... buffer?
Hickory High’s head football coach has broad shoulders and that’s necessary, because he’s taking on all distractions as his Hornets prepare for Saturday’s District 10 Class AA championship game.
Hickory (10-1) will attempt to hoist the D-10 trophy for a 3rd consecutive season when the Hornets journey to Girard’s backyard — Edinboro University’s Sox Harrison Stadium — to meet the Yellow Jackets at 1 p.m.
Hickory rolls past Northwestern in D-10 semifinals
SLIPPERY ROCK — They say that “Familiarity breeds contempt.” You can bet the Northwestern Wildcats are feeling a bit of the latter for the Hickory Hornets!
For a third straight season Hickory eliminated the northerners from the District 10 Class AA playoffs, this time by a 52-14 score in the semifinals Saturday night at Slippery Rock University’s Thompson-Mihalik Stadium.
Greenville falls to Girard in D-10 semifinals
ERIE — District 10 was destined for a Class AA championship game between reigning 2-time titlist Hickory and Greenville.
But no one informed the Girard High football team of the plans.
“ … This is pretty cool … I’m pretty fired up about it,” admitted 4th-year Yellow Jackets’ head coach Jim Funk after Girard jolted Greenville, 16-14.
SPORTVIEW: Season fate could be decided today for Browns, Steelers
IT MAKES NO sense to say that one game determines the rest of the season. That’s why I’ll simply say: Today’s one game determines the rest of the season.
Since when did my predictions make sense anyhow?
The Cleveland Browns’ visit to Cincinnati today will go a long way to deciding if the Browns have a shot at making the playoffs — and even winning the AFC North title — or if they should start planning for the NFL draft.
GCC tops Thiel in OT to win Mercer County Cup
The Grove City and Thiel College football teams closed out their seasons on Saturday with a thrilling game at Alumni Stadium in Green-ville as Grove City posted a 50-44 overtime win in the 30th annual Mercer County Cup Game.
Quarterback Brian Pell scored on a 13-yard run for the Wolverines (3-5, 5-5) to give GCC the win in OT.
Devils beat WM; will play for 3rd straight D-10 title
Two-time defending District 10 Class A champion Sharpsville is returning to the D-10 title game for a third straight year and Coach Paul Piccirilli has a simple explanation for the team’s success:
“We believe. Kids in Sharpsville believe.”
A lot of people are believing as well after watching the Blue Devils dismantle West Middlesex, 40-3, Friday night at Hickory High Hornets Stadium.
Spence, Sailors roll past Mercer, 52-21
NEW WILMINGTON — Pat McClearn lived Lakeview High football program’s previous gridiron glory days. Unfortunately for him on Friday night he was on the business end of the current Sailors’ resurgence.
McClearn and his Mercer High Mustangs were eliminated by Lakeview from the District 10 Class A semifinals, 52-21.
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