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Kiski Area earns first win of season

| Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013, 10:48 p.m.
Connellsville's Maria Merendino (24) and Kiski's Rachel Weyant for cutout photo Lori Padilla/For the Daily Courier

First-year Connellsville girls basketball coach Shawna Little wants to see her team play a complete game.

The Falcons got closer to that goal against Kiski Area on Thursday, but a lackluster second quarter proved to be the difference in a 42-36 Section 1-AAAA loss.

“We didn't quit, and that was the most minutes we've played hard in an entire game,” Little said. “I told them that if we played a complete game, we would win, and we almost did. I think it's just a matter of finding some consistency.”

After a winless season in 2011-12, the Falcons already have made what many would consider some positive strides with four wins so far this season. But Connellsville couldn't pick up its first section victory as Kiski Area's Maddy Antone scored a game-high 21 points to help the Cavaliers snap a seven-game losing streak to start the season.

Antone scored nine points in the first half to help Kiski Area build a 22-14 lead. She also was a huge factor in holding off a Connellsville rally with 12 points in the second half.

“That's what Maddy is here for,” Kiski Area coach Nick Ionadi said. “She is almost unselfish to a fault, and I told her she has to be almost superhuman for us to win and she did a nice job in the third and fourth quarters to bail us out.”

The game was close early, but the Cavaliers (1-7, 1-2) outscored the Falcons, 12-6, in the second quarter. From there, Connellsville was in catch-up mode. The Falcons (4-6, 0-4) pulled to within 22-20 early in the third but could never complete the rally as Antone hit two critical baskets in the third quarter, including a late 3-pointer that pushed the Cavaliers' lead to 30-21 heading into the fourth.

Connellsville continued to battle. Alyssa Orndorff and Ashton Grimm each hit two buckets in the final quarter. Maria Merendino led the Falcons with 15 points before fouling out.

The Falcons pulled within four points in the final minute, but fittingly, Antone iced it with two free throws in the closing seconds. Liz Recchia was Kiski Area's next highest scorer with six points.

“We're starting to figure each other out, and we're coming around,” Ionadi said. “It's nice to get that first win off our chest, and we'll just keep on digging.”

Little, though disappointed with the loss, was pleased with the way her team kept clawing, especially in the second half.

“We needed to come out (in the second half) on fire and come out with a purpose and that's what we did,” Little said. “A couple layups and a couple shots killed us.”

Jason Black is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at jblack@tribweb.com.

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