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Panthers open year with mixed results

Aaron Loughner | For The Murrysville Star
Franklin Regional guard Maggie Kimmich drives through the North Hills defense during the Panthers' win at home on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012.

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By Matt Grubba
Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012, 8:53 p.m.

Franklin Regional's girls basketball team is off and running, but it also ran into some tough competition in the season's opening days.

The Panthers dropped two of three games in the first four days of the season, as they lost to Jeannette, 70-66; defeated North Hills, 76-46; and fell against Upper St. Clair, 70-44, in a trio of nonsection games.

The first of the three, which came on Friday in Franklin Regional's Tipoff Tournament, pitted FR against Jeannette's super scorer, Ciara Gregory, who last year scored 50 against the Panthers in a losing effort. This year, Gregory only made it to 40, but her team got the win and advanced to face Mt. Pleasant in the final of FR's tournament.

Against North Hills on Saturday, the Panthers played a second strong offensive game, but this time the defense also came up big, which led to the lopsided final score.

“We were running our system, and our style of play was real good this weekend,” Franklin Regional coach Rick Klimchock said. “We were 20-for-59 on 3-pointers, which is the kind of tempo we want to play at.”

In the game against Jeannette, Maggie Kimmich led the Panthers with 27 points, and Baylee Buleca added 11 for FR.

Four Panthers hit double figures against North Hills, led by Erin DiFalco, who tied a school record with six 3-pointers for a game-high 18 points. Kimmich scored 13, while Hanna Wagner and Dana Eastman each scored 11.

“It was definitely a challenging weekend, and it had its ups and downs,” Klimchock said. “Jeannette's tough, and North Hills is a good team, but we played very well in that game.”

Klimchock was less pleased with his team's performance on Monday against Upper St. Clair, the No. 5 team in Quad-A, which had four players score 12 or more points.

“We didn't play real well, and (USC) was really sharpshooting,” the coach said.

“We played so well on Saturday, but we didn't bring it back tonight. We were a little sluggish. We were only 6 of 20 on 3-pointers, and we had over 20 turnovers, a lot of which were unforced errors.”

Kimmich led FR with 15 points on Monday, while Buleca had a double-double with 13 points and 15 rebounds for her best game yet in her recovery from a knee injury.

Still, Klimchock said he isn't disappointed with the 1-2 start as long as the team learns from the losses in time for the start of Section 2-AAAA play.

“We have to go back to the drawing board and make some adjustments, but we do have a week to get ready,” Klimchock said.

Franklin Regional hosts Mars this Monday in a nonsection game at 7:30 p.m. before opening section play on the road against Fox Chapel on Tuesday at 6 p.m.

Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830 or

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