Gateway's size makes the difference against Franklin Regional
Against the section's tallest team across the board, Franklin Regional's shooters left far too many rebounds to be grabbed.
Gateway dominated on the glass, and Franklin Regional struggled offensively, which allowed the Gators to come away with a 65-44 Section 2-AAAA girls basketball victory on Friday in Murrysville.
Katey Wilson scored 19 points, Chelsea Richardson scored 18, and Maria Taylor scored 11 and grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds to lead Gateway (7-2, 4-0), which remained tied with Fox Chapel atop the section standings.
For Franklin Regional (5-4, 1-2), Erin DiFalco had 18 points on six 3-pointers, but no other Panthers players scored more than seven, and the team connected on only two other 3-pointers.
“I think we competed, but we just had a bad stretch where we didn't get up shots and turned the ball over,” Franklin Regional coach Rick Klimchock said. “Our scouting report on (Gateway) was that they were strong defensively, but we didn't expect them to shoot the ball as well as they did.”
Gateway entered the game having struggled from the foul line all season, but the Gators converted 18 of 25 from the stripe to steadily increase their lead on the Panthers.
Franklin Regional had its best stretch of play in the early moments of the third quarter, after Taylor, Gateway's 6-foot forward, stayed on the bench after picking up her third foul at the end of the second quarter.
Trailing 38-24, DiFalco connected on back-to-back 3-pointers, and when Gateway's defense began to close out on her as a shooter, she turned into the passer for a back-door layup by Gillian Kane, who was playing her first game since returning from a knee injury.
“I've been feeling good, and I've been going into each game like it's a fresh start,” said DiFalco, who is shooting 42 percent from 3-point range this season. “I'm trying to play with confidence and not think about how many shots I'm going to make. I just want to play the best that I can.”
The 8-0 run for FR led to a Gateway timeout and Taylor's return to the game. Her return put the Gators back into control, as they dominated on the inside to piece together a 16-2 run that extended into the fourth quarter and put the game away.
“When we had Baylee (Buleca, FR's 6-foot center) out of the game, it looked like Gateway was from another planet with their size,” Klimchock said. “We felt good about our little run in the second half, but then it kind of got away from us. Gateway's got such long arms, and they're a very good defensive team.”
“It's tough because you have to adjust to the game,” DiFalco said. “You have to use your quickness as an advantage against the height of the other team.”
The Panthers had two section road games on their schedule this week. FR was to play McKeesport on Tuesday, after this edition's deadline, and the team travels to Woodland Hills for a 6 p.m. start on Friday.
Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830 or firstname.lastname@example.org.