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Greensburg Salem staves off Mt. Pleasant rally

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Lori Padilla | For the Daily Courier
Mt. Pleasant's Jordan Toohey pressures Greensburg Salem's Claire Oberdorf during Monday's game.
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Monday, Jan. 7, 2013, 11:52 p.m.

The Greensburg Salem girls basketball team spent most of Monday's game against Mt. Pleasant trying to protect a lead. And when that lead evaporated and the Golden Lions fell behind in the fourth quarter, they had enough in the tank to mount a late rally and pull off a 46-43 Section 3-AAA win over the host Vikings.

Trailing, 41-35, late in the fourth quarter, the Golden Lions, keyed by Claire Oberdorf, closed the game with an 11-2 run.

“It was two good teams playing, and I'm sure it will be like that when we meet the next time,” Greensburg Salem coach Janine Vertacnik said. “I thought we controlled the first half, but they got that momentum going, and they outrebounded us pretty good. They were hungry, and we got down, but we just refused to lose.”

The Golden Lions (7-3, 4-0) started strong, building a 7-0 lead that became a 28-20 lead at the half. Karly Mellinger scored all 10 of her points in the first half for Greensburg Salem.

Mt. Pleasant stayed in the game early with some clutch 3-pointers by Elaina Fearer and Alexa Szelong, as well as some baskets in the paint by Jena Szelong. Fearer led the Vikings (6-5, 2-2) with 11 points. Alexa Szelong and Jena Szelong each posted 10 points.

Mt. Pleasant didn't help itself by finishing just 8 of 20 from the free-throw line, including an 0-for-7 slump in the first half.

“Foul shooting was a big part of the game, and it made a difference,” Mt. Pleasant coach Scott Giacobbi said.

But even though they struggled at the line, the Vikings managed to claw back with a big third quarter, outscoring Greensburg Salem, 13-5, to send the game into the fourth tied, 33-33.

“We did a great defensive job, and we forced them into taking shots they didn't want to take,” Giacobbi said.

However, the Vikings had several players in foul trouble, and it limited their defensive aggressiveness late in the game.

“We softened up and had girls worried about fouls,” Giacobbi said.

Greensburg Salem was held to just five baskets in the second half, but Claire Oberdorf stepped up with three big buckets in the closing minutes to help the Golden Lions tie the game. Claire Oberdorf finished with a game-high 18 points.

“She's quick, and she has great guard instincts,” Vertacnik said. “Her intensity is tough to match.”

With the game tied, Taylor Mehan hit two free-throws to push the Golden Lions back out in front for good as Greensburg Salem forced a turnover in the closing minute.

“Taylor averages three points per game, but those two foul shots were critical,” Vertacnik said.

Jayne Oberdorf, who also had a strong game with 13 points, sealed the win for the Golden Lions by hitting several free-throws in the closing seconds.

For the Vikings, rallying to take the lead only to lose it late was painful, but Giacobbi is seeing some good things from his team.

“We're coming together,” Giacobbi said. “I think some of the gaps in our play is based on role playing and team chemistry. We just need to eliminate the mental mistakes.”

As for the Golden Lions, it was a huge step toward accomplishing one of their goals for the regular season.

“We want this section bad,” Vertacnik said.

Jason Black is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at

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