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Shenango eliminates Charleroi Area girls

| Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, 12:16 a.m.
Jeremy Sellew | The Valley Independent
Charleroi Area head coach Joe Grodz, shown giving his team instructions during a playoff game this season, announced he is stepping down to devote more time to his family.

For the past 10 years, the Charleroi Area girls' basketball team has entered the playoffs.

And for the past 10 years, the Lady Cougars have exited after their first game, this time a 54-48 loss to Shenango in a WPIAL Preliminary Round game at Montour High School.

“The matchup looked pretty even across the board,” Charleroi Area coach Joe Grodz said. “Anyone you play in the playoffs is going to be a good team. You're not going to see a slouch. We knew it was going to be a challenge and we weren't going to be able to walk up and down the floor. We knew they hustled hard and knew we were going to have to play.”

Mia Woytovich gave another gutsy performance in her final game in a Charleroi uniform, scoring a game-high 19 points, but it wasn't enough to make up for a poor shooting night for her team.

The Lady Cougars (17-6) shot a horrid 27 percent from the field, making 16 of 59 shot attempts. That, paired with 16 turnovers, was just too much for Charleroi to overcome.

The Lady Cougars jumped out to a 7-4 lead midway through the first, but an 8-0 run by the Lady Wildcats helped them end the first quarter with a 14-10 lead.

Anjie Tilghman, one of six seniors on the roster, nailed a 3-pointer from the top of the key to give Charleroi a brief 18-17 lead in the second, but Shenango's Ashleigh Presnar and Emma Rich ended the half with back-to-back jumpers to give their team a 25-22 lead at the break.

Charleroi gained some momentum right out of the gate in the third, as Carina Gottheld leveled Presnar on a screen, sending her crashing to the floor, allowing Woytovich to nail a 3-pointer from the wing to tie the game at 25-25. Two Woytovich free throws seconds later gave the Lady Cougars a 27-25 lead.

The relentless Lady Wildcats continued nailing jump shots, embarking on a 9-2 run into the fourth quarter to go up 38-31.

The Lady Cougars pulled within three after Rachel Ritzer, another senior, scored four straight points to make the score 38-35.

Shenango pulled away with a 7-2 run making the score 48-40 with just over a minute remaining in the game.

Woytovich hit another trey to make it 48-43, but the Lady Cougars weren't able to play catch up the rest of the way.

“We had trouble putting the ball in the basket,” Grodz said. “It was a difficult night.”

Angelina Sibeto scored a team-high 15 points to lead Shenango (13-9). Samantha Seaburn scored 13 points and Carolyn Peterson added 10.

Lynsey Wright and Tilghman each scored eight points for the Lady Cougars. Wright finished with nine rebounds.

After spending nearly 30 minutes in an emotional locker room, a puffy-eyed Grodz was nothing but proud of his team.

“A 17-win season is nothing to be down about, no matter where you play,” he said.

He was quick to pay homage to his six seniors Woytovich, Tilghman, Ritzer, Gottheld, Wright and Jordan Swarmer.

“I've known those girls half of their lives,” an emotional Grodz said. “And, they're going to be missed ... big time. I think of them all as little cousins ... little sisters. I'm going to miss them all.

“I wish them all the best and I'm sure they're all going to be successful in everything they do, they work really hard ... I'm proud of them.”

Woytovich finished her playing career as one of the best girls basketball players in the school's history, finishing with 1,103 career points. And Grodz would put her up against any of the top female players in the school's history.

Absolutely, one of the best to come out of the school,” Grodz said. “She's a special player and works hard. On the floor, she's going 100 percent all the time.

“When she's going and she's on, no one can match her. I'm so proud of her for what she's done in her career. She had all those points in less games than other girls that scored over 1,000. She did it in a lot less games and in a more dominant way.”

As a whole, it's been fun coaching that group,” Grodz said. “You get to see them grow, not just as basketball players, but as individuals. They're great young ladies that represent Charleroi well. They're a fantastic group of girls.”

GAME NOTES: Shenango hit 10 of 16 free throws in the fourth quarter, 14 of 23 in the game. ... The Lady Cougars were 13 of 18 from the line. ... Shenango moves on to the WPIAL First Round, where they'll take on No. 2 seed and undefeated Burrell, who is 22-0. ... Woytovich finished with six rebounds and four steals.

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