Penn-Trafford girls basketball team foils Mt. Lebanon with defense
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Penn-Trafford girls basketball coach John Giannikas expected a few raised eyebrows around the WPIAL after his team dispatched Mt. Lebanon in the Class AAAA quarterfinals Friday.
He and his team won't share in the astonishment.
“I know what these kids bring every night,” Giannikas said after the seventh-seeded Warriors (18-6) beat No. 2 Mt. Lebanon, 32-24, at North Hills to advance to the WPIAL semifinals. “Maybe some people are surprised out there, but the 14 kids and coaching staff in that locker room aren't. That's a great team we played, and we respect the heck out of them, but we wanted to come out and show we belong here.”
Stifling defense propelled Penn-Trafford. The Warriors held Mt. Lebanon (16-6) without a field goal until midway through the third quarter. The Blue Devils, winners of three of the past five WPIAL Class AAAA titles, turned the ball over seven times in the first half and were held scoreless in the second quarter. Penn-Trafford led 20-2 at halftime.
“We wanted them to earn everything,” Giannikas said. “I thought our kids did a great job being in the right spot defensively and forced them to make tough shots. I'm sure part of our defense the first half was us playing good ‘D,' and I'm sure they'd like to have some looks back. But that's a great team over there, and for us to win, we had to play great.”
Mt. Lebanon was held to fewer than 30 points for the first time since a 31-27 loss to Chartiers Valley in last season's WPIAL semifinals. The Blue Devils' previous season low in points came in a 37-26 win over Bethel Park on Feb. 1.
“We definitely had a tough night shooting,” Mt. Lebanon coach Dori Oldaker said. “You've got to be able to knock down shots. I think it would have taken them out of their game plan if we could have knocked down some open shots.”
Penn-Trafford played at a deliberate pace offensively. The Warriors passed the ball for more than a minute at times, and 10 offensive rebounds helped them hold on to the ball for longer.
“Mt. Lebanon is a great team, and they have a great coach,” said Penn-Trafford junior Maria Palarino, who scored a game-high 11 points. “That's what you have to do. You have to take control of the game. Be poised, and control it.”
Penn-Trafford led by as many as 19 points in the second half, but Mt. Lebanon made a late push. A 12-0 run spanning the third and fourth quarters, capped by Christine Ehland's offensive rebound and score, cut the Warriors' lead to 26-19 with 3:51 remaining. A 3-pointer by Maura Wallace made it 30-24 with 1:41 left, but Penn-Trafford freshman Athena Biondi sealed it by making two late free throws.
“They're a senior-oriented team that's used to winning, and they have a lot of heart,” Giannikas said. “We knew that their run was coming, and we had to be ready to withstand it.”
Penn-Trafford will play No. 3 Fox Chapel in the semifinals Tuesday. The Warriors also clinched a spot in the PIAA tournament. Mt. Lebanon will advance to the state playoffs if Penn-Trafford wins the WPIAL title.
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.
- Cold-shooting Monessen suffers costly loss to Fort Cherry
- No. 3 Greensburg Central Catholic ends top-ranked Burrell’s section winning streak
- Chartiers Valley displays shooting touch in blowout win over USC
- Gorman: Quips finding victory amid great loss
- Hampton girls basketball team hustles past Ford City, 53-31
- Butler’s 31-point night carries Latrobe past Norwin
- No. 5 Jeannette overcomes 18-point deficit, edges Serra Catholic
- Valley routs Freeport 61-39 to keep playoff hopes alive
- High school roundup: Bethel Park downs No. 4 Mt. Lebanon in Section 4-AAAA
- Greensburg high school roundup: Jeannette tops Serra Catholic in Section 4-A
- Charleroi preps for showdown