Ligonier Valley High School girls earn spot in district championship
The Ligonier Valley High School girls basketball team matched up with the Westinghouse Bulldogs in the Class AAA District 5⁄6/8 semifinal Feb. 28 at Central Cambria. The Rams earned a bye into the semifinal. At Ebensburg, Ligonier Valley came away with a hard-fought win against Westinghouse, 45-38, to up the Rams overall record to 16-6.
In the first quarter, four players combined for nine points for Ligonier Valley, while the Rams held Westinghouse to just three points.
Ligonier Valley scored nine points again in the second quarter, all from Taylor Rudnik and Kyra Ludwig, and initially went up 18-5. But the Bulldogs scored the last six points of the first half to make the score 18-11 at intermission.
The action really began to pick up in the third quarter and, early in the period, it was all to the advantage of Westinghouse. The Bulldogs scored nine of the first 10 points of the quarter to take their first lead of the game, 20-19, at the 4:02 mark.
Westinghouse was still up 24-23, with just under three minutes to go. Off the bench, Kari Kuhn scored two quick baskets, the first of a Rudnik assist. In the final 1:30 of the third, Ludwig scored eight points. The Rams were ahead, 35-27, going into the final quarter.
Another Kuhn basket put Ligonier Valley ahead by 10 points, 37-27, before the Rams went cold for nearly five minutes. During that time, the Bulldogs closed their deficit, making the score 37-34 with more than three minutes left in the game.
A Maddy Grimm jumper was followed by a Ludwig basket with a Grimm assist to give Ligonier Valley a 41-34 lead. Westinghouse did cut the margin with another basket. But the Rams ended the game with a 4-2 run in the last minute of play, including a great Grimm to Ludwig to Rudnik fast break.
Ludwig was leading scorer, with 18 points. Rudnik finished with 11 points. Kuhn contributed six points while Grimm and Stephanie Heming each added five points.
Grimm also pulled down six rebounds, stole the ball five times, assisted on four baskets and blocked three shots. Ludwig had six steals and four assists. Heming added six rebounds, two steals, two assists and a block.
With the victory, the Rams earned a spot in the district championship game, played on March 1 at St. Francis University. Ligonier Valley met the Forest Hills Rangers for the district trophy. The winner of the District 5⁄6/8 championship game moves into the Class AAA state playoff field as the 6-1 seed and will play the fifth seed out of the WPIAL District 7, either Central Valley or Hampton. The loser of the game moves into the Class AAA state-playoff field as the 6-2 seed and will play the District 10 champion, either Villa Maria or Franklin. The first round of the state playoffs is at a neutral site to be determined.
Doug Kurtz is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.