Brentwood girls' perseverance prevails in preliminary-round win
TribLIVE Sports Videos
It had been 11 years since a Brentwood girls' basketball team qualified for the WPIAL playoffs.
But it didn't stop the Lady Spartans from attaining their first playoff win in more than a decade.
Brentwood defeated Freedom last week in the WPIAL Class AA preliminary round, 49-45, thanks to a impressive come-from-behind effort in the fourth quarter.
“Our team came prepared to win,” said Rachel Thomas, Brentwood's first-year head coach. “Although we slipped a little in the second half, we kept our composure and fought back to win. I am very proud of these girls.
“Each player stepped up when they had to. Not one player on this roster has experience with high school playoffs. Even though we approach each game the same, playoffs are a different pace and atmosphere. To win (in) the preliminary round has been a boost of energy for our team and our program.”
The playoff victory also was the first for Thomas as the team's floor boss.
“The players ultimately deserve the credit for the win,” Thomas said. “However, without the support of the coaches, the fans and school district, it would be very difficult. We have struggled to compete in recent years; to be in this year's playoffs has been an honor.”
Eight girls reached the scoring column for Brentwood, led by 6-foot senior center Laura McGowan's game-high 20 points and 13 rebounds.
Hannah Livingston, a freshman guard, added nine points for the Lady Spartans, including seven in the second half.
The other 20 points were distributed among sophomore guard Alecia Folino, senior guard/forward Sydney Bauer, freshman guard Molly Huffman, freshman forward Stephanie Thomas, sophomore forward Nicole Zdrojewski and freshman guard Emma Betz.
The Lady Spartans, after a nervous start in the game's opening minutes, secured a 23-14 halftime advantage.
“This team has no experience in high school playoffs; playoff jitters were definitely present,” Thomas said. “I suspect the first few turnovers could have been blamed on playoff nerves. They quickly refocused and found their momentum.”
A sizzling 17-0 run — which included five 3-pointers — propelled Freedom to a 31-23 advantage late in the third quarter.
“Freedom made some adjustments and exploited our comfort zone,” Thomas said.
“We gave Freedom too many opportunities and it almost cost us the game.”
Brentwood wasn't able to go back in front until McGowan, off a Livingston assist, made it a 37-36 score with 4:17 to go.
The Lady Spartans rattled off 10 consecutive points to gain a nine-point cushion with two minutes remaining.
Huffman and Folino then iced the decision from the free-throw line.
“With several players in foul trouble, we had to re-think our strategy while keeping pressure on Freedom's shooters,” Thomas said. “We needed to curb their momentum and play our brand of basketball. Our bench players stepped in beautifully and answered that call.”
A key to the win was the perseverance displayed by the Brentwood hoopsters.
“These players understand the value of hard work,” Thomas said. “Freedom has a number of talented players. When they came out hot in the second half, we had to make adjustments and not panic.”
Plagued by foul troubles, Brentwood's lineup in the final minute consisted of one senior (Bauer), one sophomore (Folino) and three freshmen in Huffman, Livingston and Betz.
“These young women have the abilities to compete at a high level. I am not surprised our young players were able to step in and bring home a victory. They are the future of this program,” Thomas said.
“I have high expectations for all of our underclassmen. Expect to see this team in the playoffs for many years to follow.”
Brentwood improved to 15-6 with the win. Freedom dropped to 10-13.
Ray Fisher is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-388-5820 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- In reworking contract, Steelers WR Brown gets hefty pay raise
- Steelers trying to get missing defensive pieces on field
- Cole struggles as Brewers continue Miller mastery over Pirates
- Feds investigating millions embezzled from Matthews International Corp. of Pittsburgh
- Indiana County coroner: Death of 19-year-old student found on IUP campus not suspicious
- Free training sessions to administer naloxone opiod antidote to begin in Derry
- Steelers running back eager to prove he can help bridge gap to Bell
- Western Pa. played role, was transformed by victory in World War II
- Steelers notebook: LB Harrison believes Goodell will prevail in Brady ruling
- Animal activists targeting Vick at Steelers preseason game
- Allegheny County CYF worker arrested on child pornography charges