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Southmoreland stresses positives after loss to Mt. Pleasant

| Monday, Jan. 13, 2014, 11:39 p.m.
Lori Padilla | For the Daily Courier
Southmoreland's Olivia Porter (2) tries to drive past Mt. Pleasant's Jordan Toohey during a Section 3-AAA game on Monday, Jan. 13, 2014 at Southmoreland High School.

It isn't often that two basketball teams leave the same court on the same night feeling good about themselves. However, that appeared to be the case after Monday's Section 3-AAA girls basketball game between Mt. Pleasant and host Southmoreland.

The Vikings, undefeated in section play this season, came out strong and quickly took control of the game on their way to a 58-34 victory. But despite the score, Southmoreland coach Brian Pritts also looked at this game as a positive.

“(Mt. Pleasant) shot the ball well, and that's why they are in first place in the section,” Pritts said. “But our girls gave a really good effort and we were really good on the boards. We just have to keep our focus and we are definitely improving.”

While the Scotties (4-8, 2-4) are building with an eye to the future, the Vikings (8-4, 6-0) are in a win-now mode. Mt. Pleasant made sure it avoided any chance of an upset by pumping in long range shots early and often.

The Vikings drained seven 3-pointers in the game, all in the first half. Mt. Pleasant's Alexa Szelong was responsible for three of the treys, including two in the first quarter as Mt. Pleasant grabbed a 13-6 lead. Szelong finished with a game-high 24 points. Elaina Fearer, Katie Biller and Morgan Barlock also connected on 3-pointers for the Vikings.

“They challenged us by playing a zone defense, but we've been shooting well,” Mt. Pleasant coach Scott Giacobbi said.”That was key to establishing the offense early. But (Southmoreland) rebounded well. When we missed a shot, it was one and done.”

Southmoreland did a good job on the boards, especially in the first half, but the Scotties struggled to find their shooting touch. Southmoreland managed just two baskets in the first half, but knocked down 14 of 20 first-half free-throw attempts to help the home team stay in the game, 32-19 at the half.

“(Missing shots) is a negative, but we were getting to the foul line,” Pritts said.

Bethany Siebert hit all four of her first-half free-throws and buried a 3-pointer on her way to a team-high 13-point effort.

With the game still somewhat in doubt, the Vikings turned to their inside game in the second half. Jordan Toohey did a nice job of finding some open looks down low and was able to hit three baskets in the third quarter. She finished with 10 points. Then Szelong found some inside scoring in the fourth quarter to help Mt. Pleasant seal up the road victory.

“We wanted to have a balanced attack and we were able to work inside to lock things up,” Giacobbi said.

The win was Mt. Pleasant's fifth in a row.

“We've had a nice five-game stretch where we are playing good defense and we've shot the ball well,” Giacobbi said.

The Vikings will play at Elizabeth Forward on Wednesday.

For the Scotties, the loss was the team's third in a row, but Pritts remains positive.

“We stayed in the game against a good team,” Pritts said. “We had our character tested and I couldn't be more proud of their effort.”

Southmoreland hosts Indiana on Thursday.

Jason Black is the Local Sports Editor of the Daily Courier. He can be reached at jblack@tribweb.com.

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