Saltsburg slumps, Wildcats win
Wednesday night's Heritage Conference girls' basketball matchup between Homer-Center and Saltsburg had the feel of a game destined to be tightly contested right down to the wire.
The largest lead for either team through the first 30 minutes was five points and there had been eight lead changes to that point.
But in the game's final minutes the Wildcats generated turnovers, moved the ball well and put points on the board. Saltsburg didn't.
Homer-Center shut out the Trojans over the last 4:07 of play, scoring 10 unanswered points – six in the final minute – to close out a 48-40 comeback win.
“We've got six or seven losses by 10 points or less,” Saltsburg coach Don Stitt said after his squad dropped to 3-11 overall, 2-8 Heritage Conference. “We've got to live and learn. We're a young team and I basically told them in (the locker room) it takes 32 minutes. I thought we played a good 30 minutes.”
Homer-Center improved to 6-11, 5-7.
While the Trojans were getting frazzled late in the game by the Wildcats' tight man-to-man defense – settling for hurried shots or unleashing errant passes – Homer-Center coach Tom Lasher urged his team to slow things down offensively.
“We just tried to get more passes in our zone offense,” Lasher said of his team's late-game strategy. “We felt if we worked the ball we'd get better shots or at least a chance to take it to the hoop. That was the only thing I tried to do late in the game, tried to slow that down a little bit.”
The Trojans had more turnovers (six) than shots (three) after taking a 40-38 lead on Lisa Prenni's layup with 4:08 to play.
“I just thought we got away from (our offense) and we tried to play a lot of streetball in the end,” Stitt said. “I basically told the girls it was a back-and-forth match and I thought we played ball for 30 minutes.”
Saltsburg also failed to pull down a single rebound, offensive or defensive, during the Wildcats' game-ending run.
“I'm going to guess Jamie Rura is probably the high rebounder,” Lasher said. She was, tallying 12 boards to go along with her game-high 16 points. “I think she did an excellent job on the boards. Syd(ney Horel) did a nice job on the boards, Syd did a good job taking the ball to the hoop when she got the chance. All around we had people contributing on the whole team.”
Horel finished with 14 points and nine rebounds. Prenni led the Trojans with 13 points and added a team-high 11 boards.
“Sydney, the last couple games I think she's elevated her game,” Lasher said of Horel. “If she continues to improve the rest of this year, she's going to be a force. That's what we're hoping for and I think she's going to be able to do it.”
The Wildcats finished with a 40-31 edge in rebounds and a 14-9 advantage in steals, both totals slightly skewed by Homer-Center's dominance from the 28th minute on.
“What's disappointing to me is on the defensive end we should have five girls crashing and we only usually have a couple,” Stitt said of his team's performance on the glass. “I thought the second half (Homer-Center) really controlled it.”
The Wildcats tallied eight rebounds and three steals in the final 4:08, including steals on back-to-back Saltsburg possessions with under a minute to play resulting in fast-break points.
“They won the turnover game early. We won it late, and fortunately for us we did. I can't explain what the difference was. We were fortunate enough to get some turnovers and take advantage of it.”
Northern Cambria 22
Four Bobcats scored 10 or more points Wednesday as Blairsville recorded its 17th straight win with a blowout of Northern Cambria.
Mackenzie Livingston, who scored her 1,000th career point last week in the Bobcats' win over Saltsburg, had 15 against the Colts. She also led Blairsville (17-1, 12-0) with six steals and four assists.
Chelsey Koren matched Livingston for the team lead with 15 points and added a team-high eight rebounds.
Seniors Lindsay Sharp and Courtney Kanyan each finished with 10 points for the Bobcats.
Northern Cambria fell to 2-11, 0-9.
Purchase Line 28
The Lions were able to empty the bench as they improved to 9-8, 6-6 with an easy win Wednesday night over the Dragons (4-10, 2-9).
Taylor Mack led United with 15 points and Kylee Surike added 11.
Ligonier Valley 56,
Marion Center 47
The Rams got off to a fast start against the Stingers, taking a 32-15 edge into intermission Wednesday night.
Maddy Grimm and Taylor Rudnik each scored 20 points as Ligonier Valley strung together back-to-back wins for the first time since Dec. to improve to 10-4, 6-3.
Chantel Glasser had 22 points and 15 rebounds for Marion Center (12-5, 9-2) and Kearsten Brocious added 12 points and eight boards.
Greg Reinbold is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2913 or email@example.com.