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Kittanning advances, will face No. 1 Blackhawk

| Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, 8:30 p.m.

Playoff basketball is about matchups, and Kittanning had all the right ones.

Emily Klingensmith, Tiffany Montgomery and Emily Knepshield scored 11 points apiece to lead the Wildcats to a WPIAL Class AAA preliminary round win 54-38 over Greensburg Salem on Saturday at Plum.

Kittanning (15-7) advanced to face No. 1 Blackhawk in the first round Wednesday at a site and time to be determined. Greensburg Salem ends the season 9-14.

Klingensmith also had a game-high 14 rebounds for the usually guard-oriented Wildcats, who controlled the inside with a 48-36 rebounding edge.

“It's very rare we have a size advantage, but we thought coming in that Klingensmith was a little bigger and stronger than what we saw on film from Greensburg Salem,” Kittanning coach Janelle Kotyk said. “We wanted to pound the ball in and let her do some work on the inside, and I thought she and Sydney (Cloak) did a good job.”

The Wildcats also made things tough on the other end of the floor for the Golden Lions, who were limited in scoring options. Karly Mellinger led all scorers with 20 points, and Claire Oberdorf had 14, but Sheila Fennell was the only other Greensburg Salem player to score. She finished with four points.

“It's been that way for us all year, and it's hard to step up and change that in one game,” Greensburg Salem coach Janine Vertacnik said. “Because we didn't shoot the ball well, I thought we got lazy on defense. When you make baskets you have that bounce to your step, but we just struggled and struggled, and you could see it on our faces.”

Fourteen of Mellinger's points came in the fourth quarter when she made four 3-pointers with her team facing a double-digit deficit. The task of guarding her fell mostly to Kittanning guard Alaina Thomas, who was effective at denying Mellinger the ball. Thomas likely will draw a similar assignment in the next round against Blackhawk's Chassidy Omogrosso.

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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