Courtney Sargent

Kennedy Catholic's Courtney Sargent drives to the basket during Wednesday's PIAA playoff game against Clarion Area at Butler Area High School. Sargent scored 21 to lead KC to a 59-43 win.

BUTLER — Concerns for Kennedy Catholic High girls team’s pursuit of the PIAA pedestal could be determined by depth, or possibly a lack thereof. However Wednesday night’s 59-43 Sweet Sixteen clobbering of Clarion offered Courtney Sargent as a silver lining to an otherwise scary situation.

Sargent secured a career-high 21-point, 15-rebound double-double, helping ease the Lady Golden Eagles (22-3) into the Elite Eight and a 18th consecutive contest.  

The Lady Golden Eagles received a frightening 1st frame occurrence with 3:04 remaining.

Rachel Burns, following a midcourt steal, soared in for the ensuing layup, but landed awkwardly as she attempted to plant her left foot to avoid a pursuing defender. Burns was assisted from the floor by trainer Sue Mehallik, sat on the sideline for the remainder of the half, but was walking by intermission.

“It looks like a sprain, it’s a lateral (ligament) on her knee. We’ll get it checked out and see,” KC head coach Tom Burns, Rachel’s father, related. “There was no sense risking her. Not good, never good,

“But I’ll tell you what,” Burns continued. “ … Courtney Sargent, unbelievable! I just think they’re prepared. We are deeper than what people think, and we proved it (Wednesday) night, I think. That’s a very good Clarion team, and my girls showed a lot of poise. We didn’t look good there in the second half, but a win’s a win, and we’ll work on that for Saturday.” 

“I just knew it was a big game, and I had to come out hard when Rachel got hurt. I knew I had to step it up and play for my team – that’s all it’s about,” Sargent, who shot 9 for 14 from the floor related. “My teammates were looking inside … we work in practice, getting it inside, and my teammates executed. I couldn’t have played as well as I did without my teammates getting those entry passes my team gave me.”

Though in her first year playing basketball for Kennedy Catholic (she’s a volleyball player, Sargent said, “I’ve been playing basketball my whole life; my family’s got that basketball background.”

Also contributing for Kennedy were Alex Ricketts (19 points, 7 rebounds), Brie Dickson (6 points 6 rebounds, 4 assists), Angelene Rapone (4 points, 6 rebonds) and Marina Wareham (5 assists).

Remarked Ricketts, who rifled in a trio of treys, “Our goal was to get (Sargent) as many looks as possible, and she was able to convert. I’ve been putting in a lot of extra work (shooting the ball and getting good passes from my teammates is huge.”

Though it was a wire-to-wire win — KC claimed leads of 19-4 at the outset, a 30-10 bulge by the break, and 46-27 through 3 quarters — Kennedy was careless handling the ball. Clarion coerced KC into 24 miscues, though the Lady Bobcats bobbled the ball 15 times, and Clarion connected on only 19 of 60 floor shots.

Kyla Miles mustered 18 markers for Clarion (22-5) and she snared 7 caroms, but was the only double-digit scorer.

By virtue of the victory the Lady Golden Eagles, who ended 21 for 44 from the field and had 39 rebounds to Clarion’s 30 caroms, eased one step further than a year ago.

“We’re one game at a time, and our next game is Saturday, and we’re preparing for Saturday starting (today),” Burns said. “I’m really proud of these kids. They’re doing everything that we ask them. We came out and started strong again, and our defensive pressure — no matter how much people are practicing for it — we don’t change anything, and it looks good.

“I’m sure teams are gonna get stronger as we get down here,” Burns acknowledged, “so we’ll find out how good our defense really is.”

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PIAA Class A

Western Region Quarterfinals

KENNEDY    19    11    16    13    59

CLARION AREA    4    6    17    16    43

KENNEDY CATHOLIC — Wareham 1-2-2-4, Burns 2-1-1-6, Ricketts 6-4-5-19, Dickson 2-1-2-5, Rapone 1-1-4-4, Sargent 9-3-6-21, Kish 0-0-0-0, Hood 0-0-0-0. 3-pt. goals: Ricketts 3, Burns 1, Rapone 1. Totals: 21-12-20-59.

CLARION AREA — Miles 9-0-0-18, Nellis 2-0-0-4, Wolf 2-0-4-4, Fillman 1-0-0-2, Thornton 2-2-2-6, Hummell 2-1-2-7, Shannonhouse 0-0-0-0, Kroh 1-0-0-2, Ganoe 0-0-0-0. 3-pt. goals: Hummell 2. Totals: 19-3-8-43.

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