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Turnaround season ends for Sewickleky Academy girls

| Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Bill Shirley | Daily Courier
Frazier's Hannah Kline, left, Jamie Muccioli, right, and Lauren Timko, far right, struggle with Sewickley Academy's Amanda McLeod, 2nd left, in WPIAL A basketball playoffs at Chartiers Houston High School, Wednesday February 19, 2014.

In its first playoff game since 2011, the Sewickley Academy girls basketball team could not find the basket.

The team managed just four points in the second half of a 29-12 loss to Frazier in the first round of the WPIAL Class A playoffs last week.

“We got some good looks,” Sewickley Academy coach Christen Adels said. “Mackenzie Coles in particular had some good chances. But we started to do things we have never done.

“On one of our fast breaks, the layup hit the bottom of the backboard. We have never done that. It was indicative of not being there mentally.”

Sewickley Academy led 6-5 after one quarter but a 6-0 run by the Commodores in the second frame gave them a lead they would not surrender. A 14-point outburst in the third quarter put Frazier ahead for good as the Panthers were only able to score a pair of points.

Coles led Sewickley Academy with four points.

“The girls were really nervous,” Adels said. “At halftime the coaches said this isn't Sewickley basketball. We weren't rebounding like we normally do. Balls were going through our hands. We were making bad passes we haven't made since the beginning of the season. I really think the nervousness set in and it was an ugly game overall.”

The loss dropped the Panthers to 14-7 overall. In her postgame comments to the team, Adels focused on what her squad did throughout the year and the change it brought to the program.

Adels came into her first season looking to change the fortunes of a squad that had won only a combined 15 games over the two years prior. The team bought into her system and finished in second place in Section 9-A with a 9-3 mark — the best section finish since 2009. The players mastered the 1-3-1 defense and finished the regular season giving up only 25 points per game, the lowest average in Class A.

“We had an awesome season,” Adels said. “We reversed our records in the section and overall. I told them every team's season will end in a loss except for the state champion. I wanted to refocus them after the game on how great our season was.”

Adels praised the effort of the three seniors in her first season. Each served a role on the team that helped the Panthers reverse their recent fortunes. Amanda McLeod was one of the better defensive rebounders, Katelyn Ripple controlled the middle of the 1-3-1 defense and Adel described Mackenzie Pryor as the “special sauce” of the team, someone who played solid defense and was the squad's inbound passer.

“They were there all the time and they were always working hard,” Adels said. “They were the leaders during practice. They were work horses. They may not have scored a bunch of points, but they played their role well. They will be missed because they set the example by their actions.”

Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at nsmith@tribweb.com or via twitter @NSmith_Trib.

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