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Sewickley Academy girls split games at Aquinas Academy Tournament

| Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013, 1:03 p.m.
Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Sewickley Academy's Maddy Gasale looks for an open teammate during practice Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013, at the school.

The Sewickley Academy girls basketball team gained a big psychological boost with an impressive victory over Leechburg at the Aquinas Academy Tournament last week.

In winning 50-9, the Panthers nearly doubled the output of their first game, which they lost to Ellis, 29-26.

“It's good knowing we can reach 50 (points),” said first-year coach Christen Adels, noting the Panthers had few high-scoring games a year ago.

“Some of our younger players were down on themselves after we lost (to Ellis),” senior Mackenzie Pryor said. “But after 50 points got up on the scoreboard, they felt better.”

Sophomore Maddy Casale led the Panthers with 16 points against Leechburg. Freshman Julia Nash and Pryor scored eight and seven, respectively.

“Maddy was on a real shooting streak,” Adels said. “Everybody was spreading the ball around.”

Casale also had a team-high seven steals. Pryor and junior Kayla Guerin blocked four shots each.

Senior Katelyn Ripple (five), senior Amanda McLeod (five) and Pryor (four) were top rebounders.

In losing to Ellis, Panthers wilted under full-court pressure.

Sewickley Academy (1-1) committed 34 turnovers, including 22 in the first half, and made only 20 percent of its shots.

Against Leechburg, the Panthers had a 42 percent shooting average.

McLeod, who scored a team-high eight points, said Sewickley Academy was tentative against Ellis.

“It was our first game,” McLeod said. “We were trying to figure out the coach and how we played together.”

Ripple and sophomore Mackenzie Coles chipped in six points apiece. Pryor led with nine rebounds.

Adels considered the game good preparation for Thursday's Section 1-A opener at Union.

“From what I'm told, every team in the section presses,” Adels said. “The girls were frustrated; (full-court pressure) is something you can't duplicate in practice.

“They have to be stronger and go up and get the ball.”

Adels expects big improvement next month, when the team will be intact following holiday vacations.

“We should be a well-oiled machine then,” Pryor said.

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

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