Ligonier Valley girls basketball season ends in state playoffs
The Ligonier Valley Rams girls basketball team season ended with a first-round PIAA Class AAA state playoff loss March 9 to Franklin, 66-46 at Slippery Rock University. The Franklin Knights entered the game as the District 10 champion while the Rams made the state playoffs as the District 5⁄6/8 runner-up.
The game was fast-paced in the first quarter with solid offense from both teams. Stephanie Heming topped a 12-point output for Ligonier Valley with half of team's scoring. Franklin led 17-12 at the end of the first period.
But the Knights pulled away in the second quarter, outscoring the Rams 18-2 to go ahead 35-14 at halftime. Ligonier Valley was again outscored in the third quarter, 17-12.
The Rams finished the game and the season with a strong effort in the fourth quarter, scoring 20 points to Franklin's 14. Maddy Grimm scored 11 in the final period. The Knights won the round-of-32 contest, 66-46.
Grimm topped all scorers, with 19 points for the game. The senior guard also added six rebounds, six steals, four blocks and two assists. Heming was also in double figures, with 11 points for the game. She added five rebounds and two steals.
Kyra Ludwig contributed nine points, three steals, two rebounds and an assist. Taylor Rudnik scored five, while also adding six rebounds, four assists, a steal and a block. Phebe Cornell rounded out the scoring with two points and she stole the ball twice.
Amanda Ross had two rebounds, a steal and an assist. Caitlin Michaels, Jamie Wynn, Molly Horrell, Kari Kuhn, Amelia Kurtz and Ava Kurtz also played. They contributed rebounds, assists and strong defensive play in the final quarter.
The loss ends the year for Ligonier Valley with a 16-8 overall record. This season marks the second time in three years that the Rams have reached the state playoffs. Ligonier Valley finished third in the Heritage Conference, with a 11-5 mark. The Rams went 15-6 in the regular season and 1-2 in the playoffs, beating Pittsburgh City League champion Westinghouse and losing to Forest Hills in the district championship game, in addition to the Franklin loss.
The game at Slippery Rock also marks the final appearance for Ligonier Valley's two seniors, Grimm and Ludwig. Each has had a superlative career on the basketball court. Grimm ends her four years with 1,108 total points. Ludwig ends her season with 765 career points and stands as the 18th all-time scorer in school district girls basketball history.
Doug Kurtz is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.