Penn-Trafford girls finish second, almost pull off upset
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Penn-Trafford went from a good win to close the section season to just missing out on a great win in its last regular-season game.
The Warriors closed out the Section 1-AAAA girls basketball schedule by holding off a late rally to win at Norwin on Friday, 51-45, and dropped a back-and-forth nonsection contest against Class AAA No. 1 and undefeated Blackhawk, 57-53, at home on Monday.
Penn-Trafford (18-4, 12-2) locked up sole possession of second place in the section win over Norwin (12-10, 10-4), which was sparked by 18 points from Maria Palarino and 15 points from Taylor Cortazzo.
While clinching the runner-up spot likely ensured P-T will have a top-eight seed for the WPIAL Class AAAA tournament, the Warriors' tournament profile could have received a huge boost had they been the first to knock off Blackhawk (22-0).
“That was a great game by two pretty good teams, and I couldn't ask for our kids to play any better or harder than what they did,” Penn-Trafford coach John Giannikas said. “Even though we came up a little bit short, it's a good confidence boost for us.”
The Warriors gave Blackhawk, led by sophomore Pitt recruit Chassidy Omogrosso, its closest game of the season and only its third settled by fewer than 10 points.
Omogrosso led all scorers with 24 points, while Penn-Trafford had a balanced attack that was paced by Maddy Mossellem and Palarino with 11 points each and Cortazzo with 10.
“Blackhawk's a pretty good team, and I couldn't be happier with my girls and the way we played,” Cortazzo said. “If we play like we did tonight and like I know we can play, we're going to do some damage in the WPIAL playoffs.”
The Cougars used a 9-0 run of three consecutive 3-pointers to open up a 30-23 at halftime, but Penn-Trafford worked its way back into the game with a 12-4 run in the third quarter to take a 40-38 lead, its first since the opening moments of the contest.
The team also did a better job of limiting Omogrosso in the second half, as she was held to just two field goals after halftime with a defensive effort led by Cortazzo and Casey Aunkst, who were the two primary defenders to guard her in the game.
“The second half, we played a little bit better on defense and we took away the 3s better,” Giannikas said. “We wanted to start out the game with Taylor on (Omogrosso), but we wanted to give her some different looks, so we went to Casey.
“(Omogrosso) is such a good player. You're not going to shut her out, but I think we made her work for her shots. Both Taylor and Casey did a good job on her.”
Cortazzo, for one, embraced the chance to be matched up in man-to-man defense with the Division I prospect.
“It was exciting to get to guard her. She's a real nice player,” Cortazzo said. “She's really quick, and we kind of play the same way. It was a nice challenge for me.”
P-T trailed by one entering the fourth quarter, and the first four minutes of the period featured three ties and five lead changes.
Blackhawk took the first two-possession lead of the quarter on a layup by Courtney Vannoy that made it 53-49. That allowed the Cougars to go into a time-wasting offense during the final three minutes, and it eventually forced Penn-Trafford to foul and send Blackhawk to the line.
The Cougars finished the game 17-for-22 at the line — P-T was just 3-for-8 — but two misses in the late stages kept the Warriors in range. Missed 3-pointers in the final minute by Palarino and Morgan Rector, who earlier in the quarter hit a game-tying 3, ended P-T's bid for an upset.
“Their shots fell, and ours didn't in the end. That's all it was,” Cortazzo said.
Penn-Trafford was set to find out who its first-round playoff opponent would be on Tuesday night, after this edition's deadline, when the WPIAL playoff pairings were to be released. The full brackets can be seen at www.wpial.org.
Giannikas said he's not concerned about who his team's first opponent is, and that his team put itself in the best position possible last week.
“You never know how they're going to look at our section against the other sections, so we needed that (Norwin) game badly,” Giannikas said.
“The kids went out and got a gutty win on Friday. Being a second-place team isn't a bad place to be for seeding.”
Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.