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Ford City girls beat Apollo-Ridge to stay unbeaten in section

| Monday, Jan. 13, 2014, 11:09 p.m.
Nick Mitrakos | For the Valley News Dispatch
Ford City's Catelyn Cujas (left) moves upcourt against Apollo-Ridge on Monday, Jan. 13, 2014.

After a slow first quarter, the Ford City girls basketball team came alive to keep its unbeaten section mark intact.

Christina Davis scored 19 points, and Ally Cujas scored 16, including 10 in the third quarter, to lift the visiting Sabers over Apollo-Ridge, 43-33, on Monday night in Section 1-AA.

Cujas also had a game-high nine rebounds for Ford City (8-3, 3-0), which will go into Tuesday's meeting with No. 2-ranked Burrell with the section lead up for grabs. Megan Bonelli and Claire Broman scored 12 points each to lead Apollo-Ridge (9-3, 2-3).

Apollo-Ridge ended the first quarter with a 13-6 lead. Ford City responded by holding the Vikings to just 10 points over the next two quarters, as the Sabers' defense took a more aggressive approach.

“I thought, coming in, that we could match up with them, but then they got that lead, and we felt we had to put a little more pressure on their guards,” Ford City coach Al Davis said. “I think playing up on them a little more helped us out.”

Apollo-Ridge managed to hold on to the lead at halftime, 17-16, largely because some good defense offset a handful of unforced turnovers. But in the third quarter, Ford City finally pulled away by attacking inside.

Cujas was more effective at getting deep position on the block in the second half, which allowed her to score six points as part of an 8-0 run that put Ford City ahead 24-19. The Sabers never trailed after pulling ahead in that run.

“There have been a lot of peaks and valleys with us, and we've done a lot of things well, like in that first quarter,” Apollo-Ridge coach Jim Callipare said. “We still haven't been able to put in a full game, and we're still learning how to play with a lead, too. We just had too many bad decisions with the ball.”

The Vikings pulled to within eight points at 39-31 after a 3-pointer by Broman in the fourth quarter, but Davis kept Apollo-Ridge at bay with a perfect second half at the foul line.

The Ford City junior was 10 for 11 at the line in the game, including 9 for 9 after halftime, and she was able to get to the line often by taking advantage of her ballhandling ability when matched up with post players from the Vikings.

“We wanted to get that matchup inside (for Cujas) and have Christina handle the ball more in her matchup. That worked out real good for us,” Al Davis said.

The Vikings were hindered by the absence of their tallest inside player, senior Ashley Emminger. She is away from the team after the death of her mother, and her teammates are working to keep Apollo-Ridge in the playoff picture until she returns.

“She'll be back, but I told her to take as much time as she needs. Basketball is, obviously, secondary at a time like this,” Callipare said.

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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