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Mt. Pleasant girls beat Yough, zero in on playoff spot

Evan R. Sanders | Daily Courier - Mt. Pleasant's Alexa Szelong moves the ball upcourt in the first half of the Vikings' matchup against Yough at Mt. Pleasant Area High School on Monday, Jan. 28, 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em> Evan R. Sanders | Daily Courier</em></div>Mt. Pleasant's Alexa Szelong moves the ball upcourt in the first half of the Vikings' matchup against Yough at Mt. Pleasant Area High School on Monday, Jan. 28, 2013.
Evan R. Sanders | Daily Courier - Mt. Pleasant's Casey Zelenak (center) breaks through the defense of Yough's Natalie Peebles (left), and Sam Miller in the first half of the Vikings' matchup against Yough at Mt. Pleasant Area High School on Monday, Jan. 28, 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em> Evan R. Sanders | Daily Courier</em></div>Mt. Pleasant's Casey Zelenak (center) breaks through the defense of Yough's Natalie Peebles (left), and Sam Miller in the first half of the Vikings' matchup against Yough at Mt. Pleasant Area High School on Monday, Jan. 28, 2013.

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Monday, Jan. 28, 2013, 10:06 p.m.
 

After enduring a rough stretch in which it lost five of six games this month, the Mt. Pleasant girls basketball team is trying to get its footing and lock down one of the four playoff spots in Section 3-AAA as the regular season winds down.

The Vikings took a big step toward securing their spot in the postseason Monday by defeating visiting Yough, 48-20. It was Mt. Pleasant's second win in a row after dropping three straight.

“We're looking to build positive momentum as we head into the last three section games on our schedule,” Mt. Pleasant coach Scott Giacobbi said. “It's absolutely important because every game down the stretch has consequences and we have the goal of the playoffs and getting the best position as possible.”

The Vikings (9-9, 5-4) were focused and were able to quickly build a lead against the Cougars, which has lost six of seven and has fallen out of the playoff race.

In the first quarter, Mt. Pleasant dominated low, with Casey Zelenak getting a couple of easy conversions in the paint. When the inside was shut off, the Vikings turned to Elaina Fearer, who hit two shots from the outside.

Her 3-pointer helped Mt. Pleasant take a 14-6 lead. Zelenak led all scorers with 12 points, and Fearer finished with eight.

“That balance is very important,” Giacobbi said. “That's what we're trying to achieve. We had good penetration and good perimeter shooting.”

The Vikings also played well defensively. Mt. Pleasant was tenacious in the second quarter and outscored the Cougars, 14-2, in the frame. That included a 12-0 run to start the quarter and end Yough's hope of a comeback. Mt. Pleasant was in front, 28-8, at halftime.

“I thought we played hard the whole game, but Mt. Pleasant is a very tough team to play against,” Yough coach Greg Melvin said. “But we never quit.”

Yough's offensive struggles continued in the third quarter, with only one basket. Natalie Peebles and Jojo Sterner each finished with five points to lead the Cougars (7-12, 2-8).

The Vikings put the game away with a strong third-quarter effort from Jordan Toohey and Alexa Szelong. Toohey hit three shots on her way to an eight-point game. Szelong made a 3-pointer and finished with seven points.

The Cougars will host Frazier on Wednesday in a nonsection game. Mt. Pleasant visits Greensburg Salem on Thursday for a Section 3-AAA game.

Jason Black is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.Reach him at jblack@tribweb.com.

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