Gregory scores 41 points to rally Jeannette past Steel Valley
Jeannette girls basketball star Ciara Gregory was feeling the pressure of the WPIAL playoffs. The Jayhawks were falling farther behind Steel Valley in a Class AA first-round game Tuesday night.
Perhaps a halftime speech from Jeannette coach Luann Mills ignited the Jayhawks.
Gregory, the WPIAL's leading scorer, notched 31 of her 41 points in the second half to help Section 3-AA champion Jeannette rally past Steel Valley, 68-60, at Fox Chapel.
Jeannette (16-6) will face Deer Lakes in the quarterfinals on Friday at a site to be determined.
“Our offense was stagnant in the first half,” Mills said. “We had people open, but it didn't seem like Ciara was seeing them very well. I told her she was forcing her shots too much. Get the ball to your teammates and it'll open things up. Your shots will come.”
Gregory started a flurry of scoring for the Jayhawks, who outscored Steel Valley, 45-30, to erase a seven-point halftime deficit.
“Whoever was on her was face-guarding her,” Steel Valley coach Kelly Sabo said. “She was creating a lot of scoring opportunities off the fast break.”
Gregory gave Jeannette a 46-44 lead with a 3-point shot in the third quarter to cap a 23-point barrage by the Jayhawks, who trailed at halftime, 30-23.
It was one of six shots made by the Charlotte recruit from behind the arc. She also was 12 of 15 from the free-throw line, including 9 of 10 in the fourth quarter, when Jeannette outscored Steel Valley, 22-16.
“We were down in the first half and I wanted to take control,” Gregory said. “I was trying to do too much. Sometimes I just have to slow myself down.”
Gregory, who entered the playoffs averaging 31.9 points per game, scored 40 points or more for the third time this season but was short of her career-high of 50 set last season against Class AAAA Franklin Regional.
Monique Redman added 12 points for Jeannette.
CeCe Dixon led Steel Valley (15-8) with 26 points. Sydney Smith added 18 and Lacey Gori 10.
“We didn't put much pressure on them in the first half,” Mills said. “I knew we still had that to show.”
But while Mills said Jeannette got its confidence going by forcing second-half turnovers, Sabo didn't think the Ironmen folded.
“It wasn't the pressure that bothered us at all,” Sabo said. “We missed seven straight free throws and a bunch of easy bunnies. We were getting good looks.”
Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.