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Ford City girls surge past West Shamokin with second-half runs

| Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014, 11:15 p.m.
Matt Grubba | Leader Times
Ford City guard Christina Davis drives past West Shamokin's Elle Gandolfi during the Sabers' 41-35 win Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014, at Ford City High School.
Matt Grubba | Leader Times
Ford City's Andrea DiGregorio handles the ball under pressure from West Shamokin's Kelly Clowser (21) late in the Sabers' Section 1-AA win over the Wolves, 41-35, on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014, at Ford City High School.
Matt Grubba | Leader Times
West Shamokin guard Kelly Clowser crosses over in front of Ford City's Bethany Meyer during the teams' Section 1-AA game on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014, at Ford City High School. Ford City won the game, 41-35.

Trailing by three at halftime, the Ford City girls basketball team went into the locker room and came out looking like a different team.

The Sabers scored the first nine points of the second half and never trailed again on the way to a 41-35 win Thursday over visiting West Shamokin in Section 1-AA.

Christina Davis scored 10 points to lead Ford City (6-3, 2-0), and Ally Cujas added eight points and a game-high eight rebounds.

Kelly Clowser led all players with 11 points and five steals for West Shamokin (6-5, 2-1), and teammate Lizzy Cornish added nine points.

When the teams went to the break with the Wolves leading 20-17, West Shamokin looked like the more energetic team after rebounding well and producing points off turnovers in the first half.

That all changed in a flurry during the first four minutes of the third quarter.

“The intensity just wasn't there for us in the first half,” Ford City coach Al Davis said.

“They picked it up in the second half, and we got a few turnovers to turn the game around. That one spot where we got a bunch in the third quarter gave us the spread we needed.”

Ford City led by as many as seven and carried a five-point lead into the fourth quarter, but the Wolves made one last run.

Tristan Cribbs knocked down a 3-pointer to cut the lead to two, and after the teams traded free throws, Cornish scored from the low post to tie the game at 32-32 with 4:25 left.

The Sabers responded with a patient possession as they looked to feed the ball inside.

But after more than 40 seconds on offense, Andrea DiGregorio took a wide-open 3-pointer and nailed it for her first field goal of the game.

The Wolves came up empty on their trip down the court, and on the Sabers' next possession, DiGregorio finished on the inside to give her team a five-point lead with 2:10 left.

“To her credit, she kept her head in the game, even when we had her on the bench there. She's learning to stay focused, and her turn will come,” Davis said. “She came back and got us five big points, and that was what we needed.”

From the other bench, West Shamokin coach Judd McCullough credited the Sabers for taking what the defense allowed and making the shots at the end.

“That was a dagger 3. It was a clutch play,” McCullough said.

“We were packing it in on their two great players inside (Cujas and Christina Davis), and we were living with them taking some outside shots. That was our game plan going in, and she burned us on it. That was nothing our girls did wrong.”

The Wolves hung in until the final moments and cut the lead to 37-35, but Ally and Catelyn Cujas made a pair of free throws each, and DiGregorio blocked a late 3-point attempt by Cribbs in the final 10 seconds to clinch the win.

“In this section, it's tough. Apart from Burrell, there's four teams that are battling for those next three spots,” Al Davis said.

“We're happy we got this one because (West Shamokin) already had those two big wins against Apollo-Ridge and Deer Lakes. It would be nice to get a good run going here, because you never know what's going to happen.”

Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at mgrubba@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Grubba_Trib.

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