Greensburg Central Catholic girls looking for redemption against rival Jeannette
Chris Kallock was aware of the heated rivalry with Jeannette when he took over the Greensburg Central Catholic girls basketball program this season.
He's not shy to admit he wasn't quite ready for it the first time around.
His Centurions (15-5, 10-1) dropped a heartbreaking, 72-70, decision to their Section 3-AA nemesis.
He said he felt his team, which started three sophomores, wasn't itself and fell victim, to an extent, to the hype and atmosphere surrounding the game.
“We got caught up in it at times,” Kallock said. “We played too fast and just didn't play our style. We played against them but to their style and speed.”
But now, a little less than a month later, GCC gets its chance for redemption. Pair the payback angle with the fact the Jayhawks (13-6, 10-1) were upset by Riverview two weeks ago, and Thursday night's matchup suddenly is more than just another meeting — a title game with the section championship on the line.
Kallock and the Centurions know what to expect from Jeannette — a lot of Ciara Gregory. The Jayhawks' star senior had what Kallock called a “Disney movie” performance against GCC in the first meeting, scoring a school record 40 points.
“She just had an unbelievable night against us,” Kallock said. “There were a couple things in that game. We held her to just eight points in the first half, and we were only up one at halftime. Her teammates did a lot of good things on the boards and on putbacks. But then she just crushed us in the fourth quarter (23 points).”
The Centurions, winners of five of their past six, have leaned on two underclassmen to help lead the attack this season. Sophomores Carolyn Appleby and Nikki Adisey, Kallock said, have played immeasurable roles.
“Nikki just fills up stat sheets,” Kallock said. “She's that type of player. She's second (on the team) in scoring, second in assists, second in steals … she's our shutdown defender. Appleby handles the ball so much for us and makes everything run. She has such a grasp on the game and how it's to be played.”
Much of the Centurions success in the section can also be attributed to playing a beefed up nonsection schedule.
GCC had signature wins over Class AAA schools Greensburg Salem and Mt. Pleasant and suffered defeats to Class A power Serra Catholic, Class AAAA Penn-Trafford and Class AAA No. 1 Blackhawk, one of the top teams in the state.
“We could play Blackhawk 100 times and may not win once,” Kallock said. “They are just incredible. But the lesson our girls took from that game was simply seeing first-hand what it looks like when it's done perfect. That's what you work toward, and we were able to take a lot from that experience.”
Kallock wants his players to stick to what they do best and set the tone and pace of Thursday's game.
“We have to stick to disciplined basketball,” he said. “We're going to change some things up from last time and try and make things more uncomfortable for them. You can't just shut a good team like Jeannette down, but you have to alter the way they do things. I'm excited for our girls and can't wait to see what plays out.”
Brian Hunger is a freelance writer.