Rebounding woes end Lady Hounds' season
All season long, Monessen girls basketball coach Gina Naccarato said her team her team struggled at boxing out and rebounding.
Fittingly, those two facets of Monessen's game were lacking Wednesday night in a 46-37 WPIAL Class A first-round playoff loss to Rochester at Woodland Hills.
The Lady Greyhounds (9-13) rarely got second chance shots on their end, and at the other basket, the Lady Rams (12-11) often got as many as three or four chances to score.
“It was the same things we harped on all season,” Naccarato said. “We didn't box out and we didn't rebound and also let them beat us to just about every loose ball.”
The Lady Greyhounds held a 4-2 lead early in the game when the Lady Rams went on a 6-0 run to take an 8-4 lead and they never trailed again.
Trailing 10-6 after one quarter, Monessen's Mariah Ward tried to get her team back into the game in the second quarter with eight of her team-high 16 points.
However, those were the only eight points the Lady Greyhounds scored in the period and they went into halftime trailing, 18-14.
In the third quarter, Rochester began pulling away, mainly because the Lady Rams asserted their dominance on the boards.
With Monessen down 18-16 early in the quarter, the winners went on an 11-0 run to take a 29-16 lead on a basket by Kayla Besong with 3:38 to play.
Ward again tried to bring her team back, scoring seven points in the period, but Monessen trailed 33-23, going into the fourth quarter.
Chelsea Szakal scored a quick basket to open the fourth quarter and cut the gap to 33-25, but it was not a sign of a Monessen comeback as Rochester scored the next five points. The closest Monessen could get the rest of the night was the final nine-point deficit.
“Rochester is a good team,” Naccarato said. “They knew what to do against us. They packed it in and made us shoot from the outside. We lost to a good team.”
Rochester was led by Demi McFrazier, who scored a game-high 18 points. Besong added 16 points.
Joining Ward in double figures for Monessen was freshman Cara Grogan with 12 points, 10 coming in the fourth quarter.
The loss signaled the end of the scholastic careers of seniors Ward, Szakal, Edzarae Bell and Beth Halinka.
Naccarato had words of praise for her departing seniors.
“I told them after the game that not a lot of people even expected us to be here after we started the season 0-8,” she said. “They could have packed it in, but they worked hard and we finished in second place in our section. I'm proud of them. This senior group was a good group of girls.”
Rochester will face second-seeded Serra, which drubbed Jefferson-Morgan, 85-45, in a quarterfinal game Saturday.
Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or firstname.lastname@example.org.