After long layoff, Frazier, Mt. Pleasant girls set for PIAA tournament
TribLIVE Sports Videos
By the time the Mt. Pleasant and Frazier girls basketball teams take the court Saturday for PIAA first-round games, a full two weeks will have passed since the Vikings and Commodores saw actual game competition.
But because it's the state tournament, keeping the girls motivated during the seemingly unending down time hasn't been a problem.
“Making it to states definitely is huge for our girls and it's kind of like icing on the cake,” Frazier girls coach Shara Zupanc said as her team readies itself for a Class A first-round game against District 9 champion Clarion (20-5) at 5:30 p.m. at Clarion University. “I thought it would be a problem to continue to motivate (during the long stretch without a game), but the girls have practiced hard and it has been business as usual.”
Mt. Pleasant (15-9), like Frazier (16-6), enters the state tournament as a fifth seed from the WPIAL. The Vikings will battle District 6 champion Huntingdon (20-5) in a Class AAA game at 4 p.m. at Hollidaysburg Area High School.
The Vikings have done their best to combat the lull in action.
“We had a scrimmage (against Blairsville) and it was nice to validate what we have been working on during the time off,” Mt. Pleasant coach Scott Giacobbi said.
“You fight a lot of distractions with the start of spring sports. But for the most part, the girls understand that this is a culmination of an entire year's worth of work, and they value that.”
While the Vikings and Commodores will have 14 days between games, the layoff will only be one week for their opponents. Clarion enters the tournament confident after beating Elk County Catholic, Port Allegany and Keystone to win District 9. Huntingdon should also be flying high after wins over Ligonier Valley and Greater Johnstown to claim the District 6 title. Each team won their respective district championship last Saturday.
But despite the long layoff and playing district champs, both local clubs appear confident.
“We definitely feel like we can be successful,” Zupanc said. “We are pumped to drive three hours on Saturday and cause an upset. As long as we play strong defense and we are aggressive offensively, I think we can pull out a win.”
The key to much of Frazier's success this season has been strong defense. The Commodores used a great defensive effort to beat Sewickley Academy, 29-14, in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs. However, Frazier has capable scorers as well. Cassidy Guiser (13.7 points per game), Hannah Kline (13.5), Emily Marshall (13), Lauren Timko (11) and Kaley Barota (11) give the Commodores some balance.
For Mt. Pleasant, being strong in all areas will be critical. Mt. Pleasant has a featured scorer in Alexa Szelong, who is averaging 18.5 points per game. Elaina Fearer (11.6) and Morgan Barlock (10.6) also provide steady offense. The Vikings beat Belle Vernon in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs before falling to WPIAL Class AAA champion Blackhawk in the quarterfinals. Giacobbi would like to see an effort similar to the one his team turned in against Belle Vernon.
“We have to go out and execute on offense,” Giacobbi said. “Huntingdon is a really good defensive team, so we have to take advantage of the offensive looks we hope to generate.”
The winner of these first-round games will play in the second round on March 12. The losers will be done until next year.
“We know we are headed in the right direction and to have made it this far is just rewarding,” Zupanc said. “It's been a great season and hopefully it will continue.”
The Uniontown boys team will also try to make a run toward a state title. The Red Raiders (21-2) are the WPIAL's fourth seed in Class AAA and they will take on District 9 champion Punxsutawney (14-9) at 7 p.m. Friday at Dubois Area Middle School.
Jason Black is the Local Sports Editor of the Daily Courier. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
- Steelers wrap lackluster preseason with loss to Panthers
- Steelers notebook: Safety Mitchell faces former team, hurts leg
- LaBar: Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts reportedly hospitalized
- Young adults drive home rental trend in Western Pennsylvania
- New Ken-Arnold board asked to mediate between football groups
- Preseason valuable for Steelers’ offensive line
- Economy grew at brisk 4.2% rate in Q2
- DEP releases details of cases of drinking well contamination from drilling
- Statistically speaking: Can Pirates contain Hamilton on bases
- Abercrombie name to shrink from clothing
- Man found in store parking lot not shooting victim, Pittsburgh police say