Fab freshman Sirnic lead Jeannette girls past Shady Side Academy

| Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014, 10:48 p.m.

Jeannette freshman Olivia Sirnic will remember this one for a while.

The Jayhawks (5-5, 3-1) cruised to a 49-34 win over Section 3-AA rival Shady Side Academy (7-5, 3-2) on Thursday thanks to a career-high 25 points from Sirnic, including 13 in the third quarter. Senior Monique Redman added 16.

Sirnic's efforts at the top of the Jayhawks' zone defense led to great opportunities in transition for the athletic guard.

“The difference tonight was our defense,” Jeannette coach Adam Knaresborough said. “We really came out and got after them. Sirnic stepped up, and when that happens, we're a good basketball team.”

Sirnic's first season at the varsity level has been characterized by growth. She has benefited greatly from playing next to Redman, Sirnic said.

“(Sirnic's) gotten a lot better,” Knaresborough said. “At the beginning of the year she didn't really understand the top of the 1-3-1, but with all the minutes she's had, that really came to fruition tonight.”

Jeannette led from start to finish and Sirnic attacked from the first whistle.

Redman got the opening tip to Sirnic, who hit a one-dribble layup at the front of the basket. She was fouled on the play and made the free throw.

“For whatever reason, we just didn't have the intensity that we needed to play with,” Shady Side Academy coach Audrey Scott said. “They came out and were a desperate team. I don't feel like we were in a position where mentally we needed to win the game.”

In their last game, the Jayhawks rode a season-high 30 points from Redman to pick up a win over Ford City, but Thursday, she took a back seat to her young teammate.

“I still have to pick the team up, get steals, play hard on defense,” Redman said. “Just because I'm not leading the team in points doesn't mean I can't lead. Assists count.”

Jeannette opened a 10-0 lead to start the game behind the combined efforts of Sirnic and Redman, who each had seven points in the first quarter.

Sophomore forward Erin Frolich scored Shady Side Academy's first points just over four minutes into the first quarter.

“I'm still kind of surprised as to the way we shot the ball,” Scott said. “We're a much better shooting team than that.”

Jeannette extended its lead at the start of the second half to put the game out of reach.

Redman stole the ball on the Indians' first possession and found Sirnic for a 3-pointer from the right wing. Sirnic followed up with three steals that led to layups as part of an 11-2 run to stretch the lead to 28-12.

“If we can get that balance night in and night out, I think we're a very tough basketball team.” Knaresborough said. “Tonight, (Redman) didn't have her best game, but she stepped up with senior leadership.”

The win puts Jeannette in second place in Section 3-AA behind second ranked Greensburg Central Catholic (8-3, 5-0), which remains undefeated in section play.

Sophomore Emily Natoli and junior Stephanie Pish each had eight points for Shady Side Academy.

Gary Horvath is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at ghorvath@tribweb.com.

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