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South Park preps for WPIAL playoffs by routing EF

| Monday, Feb. 10, 2014, 10:24 p.m.

No. 2 South Park's big-game experience was on display on its home court from the start.

Playing for the third time in four days, the defending WPIAL and PIAA Class AAA girls basketball champion ended the regular season with an impressive showing against No. 3 Elizabeth Forward in a nonsection game Monday night.

Halie Torris scored 24 points, and South Park dominated Elizabeth Forward for a 65-48 victory, extending its winning streak to 12 heading into the WPIAL playoffs, which begin Thursday.

First-round pairings will be determined Tuesday night.

“This was a very good test for us against a very good team going into the playoffs,” South Park coach Reggie Wells Sr. said.

“We still are making a lot of mistakes that we've got to overcome if we're going to compete against the better teams in the playoffs, but we're still happy with the outcome.”

Wells said Elizabeth Forward is among those “better teams,” but added, “I don't believe they played their best game tonight.”

South Park (18-4), coming off back-to-back victories over Trinity on Friday and Class AAAA Bethel Park on Saturday, opened a double-digit lead in the first three minutes and didn't allow Elizabeth Forward to get any closer than 11 points.

“They're very talented. They know how to play the game of basketball, and they can do it on a big stage,” Elizabeth Forward coach Sam Kosanovich said. “This was a wakeup call for us.”

South Park and Elizabeth Forward (18-3) will await playoff seedings. Elizabeth Forward had a five-game winning streak stopped.

“We shot very poorly (26 percent),” Kosanovich said. “We don't have that big go-to player like South Park does. They have two of them, and they lost two pretty good ones from last year's team.”

One of them, 5-foot-9 Shelby Lindsay, plays at Army.

Allison McGrath added 15 points, and Lindsey Noss had 12 for South Park, which defeated Elizabeth Forward twice during the 2012-13 season — 60-35 in the teams' regular-season finale and 50-32 in the WPIAL title game.

The Eagles went on to beat Bethlehem Catholic, 53-38, in the PIAA championship game.

“They lost two good players, and they didn't lose a beat,” Kosanovich said of graduated stars Lindsay and 6-foot Breanna Raymond. “They are a much different team than they were last year, and they are a much different type team than we are. We have to rely on team offense and defense. We need to get a complete game in order to be effective.”

Abigail Sporio and Natalie Fekula led Elizabeth Forward with 12 points apiece.

South Park built a 33-20 halftime lead that would have been wider if not for Sporio's desperation 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer for Elizabeth Forward.

The Eagles maintained a comfortable cushion throughout the second half.

“Playing a game like this can surely help us in the long run,” Wells said. “Both teams have a lot to look forward to.”

Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach himat dmackall@tribweb.com.

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