BUTLER — The Farrell High girls basketball proved it could compete with defending commonwealth Class A kingpin Serra Catholic. But in the process the youthful Steelerettes also learned a valuable lesson: There’s no substitute for big-game experience.

For the second time in approximately three weeks the Steelerettes suffered a setback to Serra, on Wednesday night by a 64-51 count in the PIAA western regional quarterfinals at Butler High.

Seconds into the contest Serra southpaw sharpshooter Laura Grimm gestured to head coach Bill Cleary, indicating the Steelerettes started the game in a diamond-and-one, with Chloe Stewart guarding Grimm in an attempt to take her out of the Eagles’ offense.

However the Steelerettes’ strategy backfired. While limiting Grimm to only 11 field-goal attempts and holding her to a dozen points — approximately 7 below her nightly orm — Serra’s other starters foiled Farrell. Bria Gwosden garnered a game-high 19 points, tossing in four second-half triples as Serra extended its edge from 35-27 midway through the third quarter to 48-32 entering the fourth frame. Serra’s Eagles also soared on Brittany Matta’s 18-point, 5-rebound, 5-assist line and Staci Menzies’ game-high 12 rebounds and 8 points.

“You know what? You gotta take a chance sometimes when you’re playing a great team like that,” Steelerettes’ skipper Ed Turosky admitted, recalling Farrell’s 54-44 setback to Serra in the WPIAL quarterfinals. “We threw the ‘triangle’ at them. We knew we had to throw a bunch of stuff at them, but that’s what the other players have to do, the role players. If (Gwosden) doesn’t hit those shots, we might’ve won tonight.”

With Colgate University-bound Grimm garnering a trio of first-half treys and Matta mustering 9 additional markers, Serra was staked to a seemingly safe 33-16 margin at intermission. During the game’s initial 16 minutes the Steelerettes shot only 5 for 24 from the field and committed a dozen miscues.

However 5, 4 and 3 points, respectively, from Tieshia Stubbs, Dierica Blackwell and Stewart forged Farrell back into contention. When Blackwell inbounded to Stubbs for a score with 3:44 remaining in the period, the Steelerettes’ narrowed their deficit to 35-27. But that was as close as they would come.

“I think that’s the character of our program now,” Turosky proudly pointed out. “I think these kids know that they can win, even when they’re down 17. They did cut it to eight, but then we let (the Eagles) go on an 8-0 run. We actually Farrell

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won the quarter by one (16-15), but it just wasn’t enough at that time.”

Serra surged ahead as much as 59-36 with 3:02 remaining before Blackwell bucketed 5 points and Stewart and Stubbs evenly split an additional 8 to forge Farrell back to respectability.

Serra Catholic (25-4) shot only 20 for 47 (42.5 percent) from the floor, but 8 of those fielders were triples, with Gwosden and Grimm accounting for 4 and 3. Also, Matta’s 9-for-11 free-throw marksmanship enabled the Lady Eagles to turn in 16-for-22 (72.7) accuracy. The Eagles were guilty of 19 turnovers.

“Let’s not forget here: They are the defending state champs,” Turosky said of Serra. “All these girls have been on the floor for two years now. They’re experienced at things that, maybe, we lack in some areas. And they’re well coached and they’re going to do a lot of things that’re going to help them win ballgames.

“We’re going to get to that point, okay? I’m not giving up now; I didn’t quit for four quarters, regardless of what the score was,” continued Turosky. “These kids know what it takes to be a champion, and we’re going to make a run at it again.”

For Farrell (19-7), Stubbs stood out with a 16-point, 13-rebound double-double, while the backcourt of Stewart and Blackwell added 12 and 11 points, respectively. Also, Jessica Robinson ripped down 11 caroms, staking the Steelerettes to a 43-30 margin on the boards. But Farrell finished 16 for 50 (32 percent) from the floor, 19 for 33 (57.5) from the foul line and committed 22 miscues.

Blackwell, Robinson, Jessica Clayton and Alissa Williams are this season’s Steelerettes’ seniors, and Turosky praised,

“Four kids, all with different roles on the team. Alissa comes into practice every day, doesn’t concern herself with playing time; Jessica Clayton stuck it out for four years with me, even though I wasn’t always fair to her, and Dierica and Jessica have been starters ever since they were sophomores.

“They’ve set a standard for our program,” Turosky said. “In their four years I believe they were 73-34, compared with the first two years when I was 15-31. So they’ve taken it to the next level, and these other kids have learned from that, and hopefully we’ll carry this thing on.”



FARRELL 8 8 16 19 51

SERRA 17 16 15 16 64

FARRELL — Stewart 3-6-10-12, Blackwell 3-5-10-11, Robinson 3-0-2-6, Myers 1-2-2-4, Stubbs 6-4-7-16, Talley 0-2-2-2, Dye 0-0-0-0. Totals: 16-19-33-51.

SERRA CATHOLIC — Grimm 4-1-2-12, Matta 4-9-11-18, Menzies 4-0-0-8, Ossler 2-0-1-4, Gwosden 6-3-4-19, Stewart 0-3-4-3, Campbell 0-0-0-0, Frederick 0-0-0-0, McGann 0-0-0-0. 3-pt. goals: Gwosden 4, Grimm 3, Matta 1. Totals: 20-16-22-64.

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