Gregory scores 40, sets school record and leads Jeannette past rival GCC
Ciara Gregory's shot was off for much of the first half of Monday's Section 3-AA first-place showdown against rival Greensburg Central Catholic.
The Jeannette senior guard scored only two points in the first quarter after missing her first eight shots, and she had only eight points by halftime.
But by the end of the night, Gregory had scored 40, giving her the school's all-time scoring record, and more importantly, Jeannette (9-4, 6-0) was in sole possession of the section lead with a 72-70 victory.
Gregory scored 32 points in the second half, including 23 in the fourth quarter.
She has 1,785 points in her career and passed 2010 graduate Kayla Cook, who finished with 1,777.
“Getting the win was way more important than breaking the record,” Gregory said. “I was going to eventually get the record. It came on a special day, and I couldn't have asked for a better day.”
Even though Gregory wasn't sharp early, her teammates played well enough to keep the game close.
Greensburg Central Catholic (10-4, 5-1) raced to a 6-0 lead, but Monique Redman (15 points) and Monica Carl (10) each contributed seven and five, respectively, to help Jeannette grab a 16-14 first-quarter lead.
Devin Larkin, a 6-foot-2 senior, scored 10 of her 12 points in the first half as Greensburg Central Catholic took a 31-30 lead into halftime. She fouled out with 5:12 left.
“My shot has been off the past few games,” Gregory said. “But my teammates were unbelievable. That's what made us win.
“My teammates picked me up. They played defense; they played offense. They ran the offense and executed it. They were awesome.”
Jeannette seized control in the third quarter, using a 9-6 run to grab a 39-37 lead. Gregory's 3-pointer tied the score the 37.
The Jayhawks led, 46-41, heading into the fourth quarter, which is when Gregory took control.
Jeannette built a 59-52 lead with 3:41 left, but Greensburg Central Catholic responded with an 8-0 run to take a 60-59 lead with 2:36 left.
Greensburg Central Catholic's pressure defense forced Jeannette to turn the ball over, and Maireade Byrne-Houser (19 points) and Carolyn Appleby (14 points) came up with big baskets during the run.
But Gregory, who is not shy about shooting, drilled a 3-pointer with 2:02 left to give Jeannette the lead for good. The shot keyed a 6-0 run that was highlighted by Gregory's driving layup with 1:13 left that gave her the record and Jeannette a 65-60 lead.
The game was stopped to honor her, but it also stopped Jeannette's momentum as Greensburg Central Catholic rallied but could never catch the Jayhawks. Heather Bosco scored seven points for the Centurions in the final minute.
“Their pressure slowed us down, but we figured it out,” Gregory said. “We started spotting the open girl when they double-teamed me.”
Paul Schofield is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com.