Westinghouse girls falter against Ligonier Valley
Ligonier Valley survived a nearly five-minute scoring drought in the fourth quarter and used a late flurry to hold on against Westinghouse, 45-38, in a PIAA Class AAA District 5⁄6/8 sub-regional game in Ebensburg.
Down, 37-27, less than a minute into the final quarter, Westinghouse got a 3-pointer and a 2-pointer from Jasmine Myers to cut the deficit to three with just over three minutes left.
But a 6-2 run by Ligonier Valley, along with a delay offense, put the Rams ahead, 43-36, with just over a minute left in the game.
The Rams hadn't played a game in nearly two weeks, and it showed early on, with Ligonier Valley scoring just nine points in the first quarter.
Though Westinghouse had played four playoff games during the same period, the Bulldogs managed just three points in the opening period.
“We started slow because of the 11 days off since our last game,” Rams coach Paul Dominic said. “The girls were hesitant to shoot the ball. Luckily, as the game progressed, we were able to gain a couple of leads.”
Taylor Rudnik and Kyra Ludwig, the leading scorers for Ligonier Valley, helped the Rams build their first lead in the second quarter. The two combined for nine points to put Ligonier Valley up, 18-5, with just under two minutes left in the first half. But Westinghouse's Brittany Jackson scored four points during a 6-0 run to close the quarter. Ligonier Valley led 18-11 at halftime.
The City League champion Bulldogs continued their push in the second half, outscoring the Rams, 9-1, to take their first lead of the game, 20-19, midway through the third quarter.
“Our press was working well, but we had to get out of it because of foul trouble,” Dominic said. “We were able to put in some fresh legs to get the lead back.”
With starters Grimm and Stephanie Heming on the sideline with four fouls apiece and the Rams down, 24-23, freshman Kari Kuhn came off the bench and scored four points as part of a 12-3 Ligonier Valley run. Ludwig had the other eight points, all late in the third quarter. Kuhn scored again early in the fourth to give Ligonier Valley a 37-27 lead.
“Westinghouse played a very up-tempo game,” Dominic said. “They caused us a lot of problems with their high half-court pressure. We go back to the drawing board tomorrow and get ready for our next game.”
Ligonier Valley (16-6) will face Forest Hills (18-4) in the district championship at 1 p.m. Saturday at St. Francis University. The Rams are ensured of a spot in the PIAA playoffs regardless of the outcome of the district finals.
The loss ended the season for Westinghouse (17-10).
Doug Kurtz is a freelance writer.