GCC survives Laurel on late 3-point shot

| Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, 10:28 p.m.

Greensburg Central Catholic freshman guard Brittany Stawovy didn't expect to play the role of playoff hero, but that's where she found herself Tuesday.

Stawovy hit a 3-pointer to give her team a 46-43 lead over Laurel with 20 seconds to play, and the Class AA No. 3 seed Centurions held on for a 50-43 win in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs at Fox Chapel.

Stawovy finished with eight points but was happy just to be there.

“I really just wanted to get some playing time on varsity, and starting is awesome,” she said. “It's been a good transition.”

Junior guard Carolyn Appleby scored 19 points for the Centurions (18-4) to lead all scorers, but she scored just two points in the fourth quarter, allowing Laurel (13-10) almost pull off an upset.

After Nikki Addisey hit two free throws to give Greensburg Central Catholic a 39-28 lead at the start of the fourth quarter, Laurel went on a 10-0 run fueled by its zone defense.

“We got a little impatient in our zone offense,” GCC coach Joe Eisaman said. “Against zones, some nights you can look great against them, and some nights you can look awful.”

Appleby halted the Laurel run with a coast-to-coast layup, but Laurel forward Ellen Shaffer answered with a three-point play, hitting the free throw after getting fouled on a layup.

A 3-point shot from the right wing by Jessica Conrad tied the game at 43-43, erasing what was an 11-point lead for the Centurions.

But Stawovy's heroics put her team in the lead for good.

“I just wanted it to go down,” Stawovy said. “I was pumped up.”

Her teammates left the game impressed.

“She's got a great 3-point shot, and she really got it done right there,” Appleby said. “It was a heck of a shot.”

Shaffer gave GCC trouble under the basket and finished with 18 points. Conrad added 12 for the Spartans.

Even as a favorite, the Centurions expect games like Tuesday's.

“It's definitely a close game, that first one, because you're nervous,” Appleby said, “but once you get it done, you can just keep progressing.”

Eisaman was quick to acknowledge that his team would have to improve if it wants to be considered a contender for the WPIAL title. Specifically, the Centurions must get better against zone defenses and get out of the mindset of having to score early in a possession, like they showed against Laurel.

“Laurel's a tough team,” Eisaman said. “They're very well coached. They stayed disciplined in the zone, and they were active in it.”

Foul-shooting woes have been an issue this season and came into play again. GCC was 9 for 17 (53 percent) from the free-throw line.

“That first one's the hardest one to get,” Eisaman said. “I'm proud of how the girls played and persevered. In tournament play, however you get it done, you get it done.”

GCC will face No. 6 Carlynton on Friday at a time and location to be determined. Carlynton defeated Mohawk, 56-22, on Tuesday.

Gary Horvath is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at ghorvath@tribweb.com.

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