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Girls basketball picks up tough nonsection win

| Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Murrysville Star
Erin DiFalco drives to the hoop for Franklin Regional after getting Greensburg Salem's Karly Mellinger to fly past her with a pump fake during FR's nonsection win on Monday, Jan. 21, 2013. Matt Grubba | Murrysville Star

With a week off between halves of the section schedule, Franklin Regional's girls basketball team didn't back off from some out-of-section challenges.

The Panthers lost on Thursday, 72-60, at Class A No. 4 Quigley Catholic before picking up a 60-49 win at home over Class AAA Greensburg Salem.

Both Quigley and Greensburg Salem lead their respective sections, and to pick up the one win they got, the Panthers had to come up with a physical performance.

Maggie Kimmich had 15 points, Erin DiFalco scored 10, and Baylee Buleca had 12 points and 14 rebounds to lead Franklin Regional (8-6) in its victory. Karly Mellinger led Greensburg Salem (12-4) with 17 points, and Jayne Oberdorf scored 16 for the Lions.

“This game, we challenged them to raise their energy level and their effort, and I think we had the best energy that we've had all year,” Franklin Regional coach Rick Klimchock said.

“I think we needed this game to boost our energy before we play (section games),” Buleca said. “I think we needed to prove to ourselves that we still have it.

The game featured 45 total fouls called against the two teams — 22 against FR and 23 against Greensburg Salem — but the Panthers handled the situation well, as they made 24 of 32 free throws, and only Kimmich picked up a fourth personal foul, which happened late in the final quarter.

“Our girls do a good job of staying poised. They don't yell at referees, and they don't get caught up in trash talk,” Klimchock said. “We didn't shoot the ball well from behind the arc. We were 2 for 25 from there, but we did a good job from the foul line, and I was proud of that.”

The Panthers opened the game on a 7-0 run, and they steadily increased the lead throughout the game. Buleca was the Panthers' most effective player on both ends of the court, as she used her height advantage to help the team offset the poor shooting night.

“We usually rely on our 3-pointers, but today we dominated in the paint,” Buleca said. “That's not something that we usually do. That's sort of my territory, but today we did a really good job inside.”

Buleca didn't have to do it alone on the inside.

Dana Eastman came off the bench and added six rebounds and a blocked shot, while Mary Komandt, Gillian Kane and DiFalco each had five rebounds to give FR a 47-39 edge on the glass.

“Tonight, we didn't have our best offensive game, but we got it done defensively and on the glass against a Greensburg team that's got some firepower,” Klimchock said.

Greensburg Salem cut the lead to single digits in the fourth quarter, but Franklin Regional did a good job playing a more deliberate style of offense to protect its lead and force the Lions out of their zone defense.

“I think our biggest problem is that we don't always pass that well. Today, we did a really good job with our victory play, where our guards pass the ball around and have to make decisions with where to pass,” Buleca said.

“I think this game proved that we can pass the ball as a team very well.”

The Panthers were scheduled to return to section play on Tuesday, after this edition's deadline, against Fox Chapel.

Franklin Regional's next game is a Section 2-AAAA contest at Penn Hills, Friday at 6 p.m., for the first game of a girl/boy doubleheader.

Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830 or mgrubba@tribweb.com.

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