South Park continues to perplex Elizabeth Forward girls basketball team
There wasn't a lot of emotion exhibited on the court by Elizabeth Forward after its 50-32 loss to South Park in the WPIAL Class AAA girls basketball title game Saturday at Palumbo Center.
It was more quiet resignation, as the Warriors as stood in line to receive their silver medals. They watched stoically as the Eagles celebrated the third WPIAL title in school history and second in five years.
“I think that holding them to 50 points was pretty good, but we just weren't able to score some points,” Elizabeth Forward coach Sam Kosanovich said. “If we would have scored our average it would have been a different game. Defensively we were still able to do some things, but offensively it was just one of those nights.”
Actually, Elizabeth Forward was almost right at its average. Not the 57.4 points a game the Warriors were scoring heading into the game, but the 35.8 they had put up in their previous eight meetings — all losses — with South Park.
Whether it was that South Park had already handed Elizabeth Forward (23-3) a 60-35 loss Feb. 11 or just that it's just a matchup problem for the Warriors, they simply have not played well against the Eagles since they moved up to Class AAA after winning the WPIAL Class AA title in 2008.
Elizabeth Forward couldn't contain South Park's inside trio of freshman Allison McGrath and seniors Shelby Lindsay and Breanna Raymond, who combined for 32 points and 35 rebounds. Those three players singlehandedly equaled the Warriors' scoring output and helped the Eagles gain a 53-27 rebounding edge.
Elizabeth Forward shot only 11 of 48 (22.9 percent) from the floor and rarely had opportunities for putbacks in the paint. More telling was that the team's leading scorer in the game, senior forward Dana Buck, had nine points. She made only one field goal, a 3-pointer, and picked up five points on free throws in the fourth quarter.
“We have to hang our hat on our defense, because some days we have days like that where we're not shooting that well and our defense has to carry the day,” South Park coach Reggie Wells said. “Our kids understand it, they accept it, and whether we're scoring or not, they're going to keep playing it as hard as they can. That's the kind of team we are.”
Elizabeth Forward has a few days to regroup for the opening round of the PIAA Class AAA finals.
The Warriors are familiar with their Central Valley, which they meet at 3 p.m. Saturday at Baldwin. The Warriors began the WPIAL playoffs as the No. 4 seed but were upset by EF, 66-45, in the quarterfinals.
Unlike that victory at West Allegheny on Feb. 23, Central Valley will have its full complement of players. In that game, 6-foot-1 junior center Kiana Law, who averages 12 points and is a force inside, was a spectator: She was serving a PIAA-mandated, one-game suspension for being ejected during a first-round win over South Fayette.
It will certainly make Elizabeth Forward's hopes of advancing in the state playoffs a bit more difficult.
“Central Valley is going to be a very tough opponent, because they're going to want us because we knocked them out of the WPIAL playoff run,” Kosanovich said. “The Law girl is very good on the boards and that's one thing we have trouble with, so we're going to have to box out and contain.”