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Clairton girls get important win over Monessen

| Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013, 10:54 p.m.

After losing its last two section games, Clairton desperately needed a win against surging Monessen if it wanted to maintain the hope of qualifying for the WPIAL Class A playoffs.

It wasn't pretty, but the Bears did exactly what they needed to do as senior Kamara Townes scored seven of her team-leading 24 points in the fourth quarter to lead Clairton (5-7, 2-3) to a 49-46 victory over Monessen (3-9, 2-3) in the first of their two Section 3 matchups. The loss ended the Greyhounds' modest three-game winning streak after opening the season 0-9.

“I think that they finally kept their composure because a lot of times we'll be in the fourth quarter in games, and then we lose it,” Clairton coach Charles Shealey said. “I think this time they really kept their composure, ran the offense and really played with a lot of confidence.”

At least they did for about 7 minutes and 55 seconds. Leading, 49-43, with five seconds left, senior point guard Tori James fouled Monessen's Mariah Ward at midcourt then got called for a technical foul.

Because the Greyhounds were in the double-bonus at the time, Ward was given four free throws, and the technical foul gave Monessen the ball with five seconds remaining.

“Our point guard didn't lose her head all the way, but she made a bad decision,” Shealey said. “She knew that was wrong ... but the main thing was, (you can't lose) it with four foul shots with five seconds left.”

Ward, who led Monessen with a game-high 25 points, made the first two, missed the third and dropped in the fourth to make it a one-possession game. The Greyhounds inbounded from midcourt after the free throws, but they made a couple of bad decisions of their own as Ward took two shots from inside the arc — missing both — instead of going for a game-tying 3-pointer.

“Those are kids out there, and they were just doing what kids do,” Monessen coach Gina Naccarato said. “It's part of the game. There's nothing I can do about it.”

Clairton trailed, 31-29, heading into the fourth quarter and kept the game close despite committing eight turnovers and making only 4 of 11 from the floor. Monessen appeared as though it was ready to pull away when it took a 34-31 lead, but Townes hit a 3-pointer with 4:42 remaining to tie it. After the Greyhounds took the lead two more times, the Bears finally took the lead for good on a 3-pointer from Serenity Simmons.

With the win, Clairton moved into a tie with Monessen for the section's fourth and final playoff spot as they head into the second half of the season.

“We'll use this as a positive motivator,” Shealey said. “We separate the season into three, the first half was the first, we're heading into the second now, and the third phase is if we get to the playoffs. This is a new season for us.”

Keith Barnes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at kbarnes@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KBarnes_Trib.

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