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Defense leads Elizabeth Forward girls into semifinals

| Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, 11:18 p.m.

The Elizabeth Forward girls basketball team's dream season is still very much alive and well.

Using a suffocating defense and balanced scoring attack, EF cruised to a 66-45 win over Central Valley on Saturday afternoon at West Allegheny High School. EF (22-2) will face undefeated Blackhawk on Wednesday evening at a time and site yet to be determined.

“I don't want to sound like a broken record, but it has been our defense that has carried us through,” said Elizabeth Forward coach Sam Kosanovich. “Today, we really had some offensive game that came through as well.”

The victors were paced by junior guard Kylie Owoc's 16 points while forward Dana Buck chipped in with 15.

Central Valley's Seairra Barrett led all scorers with 20 points.

Elizabeth Forward's guard tandem of Alison Pastore and Abigail Sporio turned up the defensive pressure. Their play helped create 23 Central Valley (18-5) turnovers, seven of which came in the first quarter.

Buck scored three buckets from close range in the game's opening frame while Owoc's 3-pointer near the end of the quarter gave Elizabeth Forward a 19-10 lead.

The Buck/Owoc duo continued to dominate in the second quarter. Teammate Olivia Barkley also chipped in, converting two offensive rebounds into baskets late in the half, pushing Elizabeth Forward's advantage to 34-16.

“Balanced scoring, that is what we do,” added Kosanovich. “We run players in and out and feel that everyone has a chance to compete when they get on the floor. It showed tonight.”

Barrett, along with point guard Morgan DeMailo, worked to bring Central Valley back in the third quarter. DeMailo hit two 3-pointers to cut the EF lead to 15 midway through the third, but Elizabeth Forward stifled Central Valley with its trademark defense.

“Barrett is very athletic and goes to the hoop strong,” added Kosanovich. “We did our best to put a body on her and hold our own. She's very good in the post. We did an outstanding job overall. I thought we played a strong defensive game throughout.”

Elizabeth Forward's reward is a date in the Class AAA semifinals against powerful Blackhawk, which disposed of Belle Vernon in the earlier game.

“We're going to come and play, that is for sure,” said Kosanovich. “They're undefeated for a reason.”

David Whipkey is a freelance writer.

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