Bitonti's moves into first place
The battle for first place Monday in the J. Budd Grebb girls basketball league may have fizzled, but a coaching battle between spouses provided a most entertaining storyline.
Bitonti's Barristers, coached by Melanie Greco — who was subbing for the vacationing Ray Huffman — used a distinct size advantage to double up Fredericktown Butcher Shop, 50-24, at California Middle School gymnasium.
Fredericktown (3-2) is coached by Bill Greco, Melanie's husband.
“Maybe there was a little bragging rights, but that's it,” Melanie Greco said about playing her hubby's squad.
“I was just helping Ray out and wanted to see the girls play a good game. I thought they played defense and hustled, but ultimately if these two teams match up in the playoffs (with full rosters) they'll be very evenly matched.”
Belle Vernon Area forward Meaghan Murphy led the way for Bitonti's (4-1) with 22 points while Waynesburg's Lindsay Huhn scored all 13 of her points in the first half while grabbing nine rebounds. Brittany Stawovy led the way for Fredericktown (3-2) with 12 points and nine rebounds. Bentworth's Heather Chester added seven boards.
“The times they had their three bigs on the court, there's not much we could do, and Murphy has some touch around the basket,” Bill Greco said. “We had to play man-to-man, because we can't play zone.”
League rules stipulate teams cannot play zone defense.
Fredericktown was missing its top two scorers: Kaitlyn Slagus (21 ppg) and Bria Rathway (9 ppg), and it showed as the team struggled with missed shots, turnovers and poor guard play as Bitonti's finished the first half on a 27-7 run for a 22-point halftime lead.
The closest Fredericktown would get was when Stawovy scored with five minutes left, cutting the deficit to 41-24. But Monessen's Cara Grogan quickly answered with a bucket off a cross-court pass from Murphy, who then converted a three-point play to put Bitonti's ahead by 22 points. Bitonti's then played keep-away for most of the final two minutes.
After the game, Bill Greco took some lighthearted ribbing from a pair of fans — one asking if he lost a bet with his wife and had to sleep outdoors for the night. Greco took it in stride.
“Nobody's sleeping outside,” he said, smiling. “The thing to remember about this league is, all that matters is who wins the last game of the season.”
State Farm 56, Lagerheads 54
Bentworth's Reilly Skerbetz hit a baseline drive with 12 seconds remaining to give State Farm the win in a back-and-forth, physical match up.
Charleroi's Mia Woytovich scored 22 points and pulled down seven rebounds for State Farm (2-3), while Skerbetz (13) and Kirsten Garber (11) reached double figures.
For Lagerheads (1-4), Maris Seto of Brownsville had a monster game, scoring a game-high 27 points, to go with 18 rebounds and eight steals. Her layup and subsequent free throw tied the game, 54-54, with 1:16 remaining, but the teams failed to score on their next possessions and Skerbetz hit the eventual winning basket while being fouled, but missed the free throw.
Lagerheads nearly sent the game into overtime, but California's Bailey Vig missed a floater from the top of the paint at the buzzer.
Rick Bruni Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 724-684-2635.