HERMITAGE – Approximately 2 1/2 months ago Farrell High girls basketball team commenced the campaign with a 39-point loss at Kennedy Catholic.
Saturday's District 10 Class 1A championship game demonstrated how much the Lady Steelers improved during the course of their 20-game unschedule; unfortunately, it wasn't enough.
Paris Gilmore garnered a game-high 13-point, 6-assist, 5-rebound line, keying Kennedy Catholic's 51-34 victory over its Shenango Valley rivals.
With the wire-to-wire win, Kennedy Catholic captured its 11th consecutive crown and 27th in program annals.
"It's a great feeling! We had a couple losses – teammates' family members; one of our coaches (Gene Sarazen) passed away. We had to pull it through for him, and we had to pull through for each other. We wanted it really bad, and we had to fight for it," summarized Gilmore.
A 5-foot-6 sophomore point guard, Gilmore got the Lady Golden Eagles' early edge, scoring 7 first-period points. Also, Hayden Keith connected on a pair of treys and Bellah DiNardo donated an additional 4 points, keying KC to an 18-4 first-quarter lead.
DiNardo (14 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists), Keith (9 points, 2 assists), Keegan McConahy (game-high 12 rebounds, 6 points), and Isabella Bianco (5 points, 6 rebounds) also contributed for KC.
Kennedy Catholic coerced Farrell into 8 first-quarter turnovers, and Gilmore related, "Defensively, I had to step up. My shots weren't hitting well – my teammates were, but I wasn't – so I had to step up defensively and we came together and pulled through."
The Lady Golden Eagles extended their edge to 28-15 by the break and 36-20 through 3 periods, but Farrell fought for the full 32 minutes. After the Lady Steelers' shaky start, Farrell finished with just 15 miscues.
When Gabby King connected from inside the Lady Steelers sliced their deficit to 36-25 with 6:42 remaining.
"I thought this group of kids, they grew so much from beginning to end," assessed 21st-season Lady Steelers' skipper Eddie Turosky. "I think about the first game we played here against Kennedy – we got 'whitewashed,' I mean it was a forty-point game (62-23). The second time we played 'em it was a forty-point game in the first half (71-25 at the end).
"So it just shows the growth and the work that (the Lady Steelers) put in throughout the season to allow us to be really competitive (Satur)day as a community – one community from the city of Farrell," Turosky added.
King and her frontline teammate, Jaylie Green, evenly divided 18 points, and Green grabbed 10 rebounds for Farrell (14-6). Also, King collected 6 caroms, Demariah Burns and D'Eryah Stewart split 14 points, and Sanaa Brodie dished out 3 dimes.
Farrell finished with 8 wins in its last 11 games, losing to Grove City, West Middlesex and Kennedy Catholic.
"I think a lot of it, too, is we started hittin' mid-season form, conditioning-wise," Turosky observed. "I don't think it was for lack of effort earlier; I just think we were out of shape, everybody coming off that pandemic, maybe not eatin' right.
"But they definitely bought into everything we've been tellin' them and they didn't quit," emphasized Turosky. "They started to believe that they could win that (D-10 championship) game. And that goes a long way. Sometimes the mental side of it is harder than the physical part."
Though its her 1st season as part of Kennedy Catholic's tradition-rich program, Gilmore gained an understanding of the pride it has built through decades.
"I know, D-10, we have a history of winning, and we didn't want to let anyone down; we had to step up and win," Gilmore said following an emotional post-game meeting with her mates.
Kennedy Catholic (18-0) will commence the PIAA playoffs next week. Last season ended in the statewide Elite Eight, only to be cancelled by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Going eighteen-and-oh, every game we have to come in with the same mind-set, (but) we can't let eighteen-and-oh get in our heads," Gilmore related. "We have to make it seem like oh-and-oh every, single game and come out with the same intensity to get here, and further in states. One game at a time to get to the ultimate goal.
"We're ready," Gilmore confidently concluded.
"We had four goals this year ... and our second goal (was) the District 10 championship," KC Coach Justin Magestro said prior to the playoffs. " ... We've got a lot of work to do. We always talk about zero-and-zero. ... As far as a program, from staff to players, as far as we're concerned we're zero-and-zero because moving forward in the regular season and moving forward in the playoffs we try to really take it one game at a time and one part of the journey at a time."
Notes: Turosky feted his trio of seniors – Jordyne Scott, Samaya Moore, and Jada Jackson. "They don't get a lot of minutes, but they're great kids. And kids like that, you don't find 'em too much like that in today's world. They are willing to be a part of the team and come in and work in the gym with us, and know that they're not gonna play. They've been doin' that for four years, honestly. They were jayvee players. ... But this is a youthful team, and I think it's a team that's gonna get better. I think we have to work really hard this offseason ... "
DISTRICT 10 CLASS 1A
FARRELL 11 11 5 14 34
KENNEDY 18 10 8 10 51
FARRELL – Burns 2-1-2-7, Brodie 1-0-0-2, King 4-1-2-9, Green 4-1-2-9, Stewart 2-3-4-7, Scott 0-0-0-0, Harden-Mann 0-0-0-0. 3-pt. goals: Burns 2. Totals: 13-6-10-34.
KENNEDY CATHOLIC – DiNardo 5-4-8-14, Gilmore 6-0-1-13, Al. Suhar 2-0-0-4, McConahy 2-2-6-6, Keith 3-1-2-9, Bianco 1-2-4-5, An. Suhar 0-0-0-0, Lombardi 0-0-0-0, Ochweri 0-0-0-0, Chambers 0-0-0-0. 3-pt. goals: Keith 2, Gilmore 1, Bianco 1. Totals: 19-9-21-51.