GCC girls oust District 6 champion Blairsville
EBENSBURG — During the regular season, Class AA Greensburg Central Catholic got the best of higher-classed opponents for the majority of the time — 2-1 against Class AAAA schools and 4-2 versus Class AAA teams — and won 10 of its 12 Section 3-AA games.
That success prepared the Centurions for tough games like this.
Devon Larkin scored 20 points and GCC pulled away in the second half to oust District 6 champion Blairsville from the PIAA playoffs with a 58-39 first-round victory on Friday at Central Cambria High School, handing the Bobcats just their second loss of the season.
“You gamble a little bit when you schedule tough games,” GCC coach Chris Kallock said. “It paid off for us because you can't mimic the speed of Blairsville's guards. I expected a tight game, and it was for much of the time.”
GCC (18-7) outscored Blairsville, 32-15, in the second half after clinging to a 26-24 halftime lead. Carolyn Appleby added 12 points for the Centurions, the WPIAL's sixth-place team who advance to meet Seton-La Salle in the PIAA second round.
Mackenzie Livingston's 13 points led Blairsville (24-2), which shot just 12 for 23 from the foul line after going 23 for 25 in a 71-61 victory over Bellwood-Antis in the District 6 championship game.
“This team, these seniors have been great,” Blairsville coach Ralph McGinnis said. “They can't remember this day. They've got to leave here proud. Our goal was to play Seton-La Salle. We were one game short.”
GCC overcame a sluggish start to take a 12-9 lead after the first quarter. The Centurions survived a Blairsville surge in the second quarter to hold a two-point halftime advantage before opening up an eight-point lead in the third.
They pushed it to 41-31 early in the fourth quarter on basket by Larkin.
Blairsville cut the margin to nine on two occasions before GCC went on a 12-0 run to take a 58-37 lead, finishing the fourth quarter 9 for 11 from the foul line and 14 for 18 overall.
“We were executing so well,” McGinnis said. “We just didn't have the size to match up with them.”
Sophomore Chelsey Koren, who scored 23 points in Blairsville's District 6 title game victory, managed just nine against GCC. She was the Bobcats' tallest player at 5 feet 11.
Two GCC starters — 6-2 Larkin and 6-1 Leah Bisignani — were taller than 6 foot.
McGinnis, who completed his first season at Blairsville after leading Richland to the District 6-AAA championship game in 2012, loses three starters among four seniors this season. He said he has begun upgrading Blairsville's schedule for the next year.
The Bobcats, who won their first Class AA/A Heritage Conference championship, are set to play in tournaments next season featuring Bishop Guilfoyle, Delone Catholic, Hollidaysburg and Bellwood-Antis.
“Our schedule was weak this year,” McGinnis said. “We got a late start with it this year, but we're already looking at next year. We want to play the best teams and see where we measure up.”
Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.