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Basketball

Ford City girls basketball team defends shutout win

Bill Beckner Jr.
| Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014, 10:09 p.m.

Ford City junior guard/forward Christina Davis said the word “shutout” never was mentioned in a team huddle Monday night when Ford City plunked Leechburg, 56-0, in a Section 1-AA girls basketball game.

But Ford City did hold visiting Leechburg scoreless — for 32 minutes — and the rare occurrence had social media abuzz and sports-talk radio humming Tuesday.

People threw a variety of opinions into a blender powered by sportsmanship.

Should Ford City have backed off and not played starters when the game was clearly in hand? That's the focal point that turned an ordinary regular-season girls basketball game into a hot topic.

Davis confirmed Ford City's starters played in the third and fourth quarters. But it was just another win for the Sabers (11-4), who many believe shouldn't have felt sorry for their opponents.

Granted, Ford City didn't try to score 100 points, but it maintained defensive pressure throughout. The Sabers, known for playing man-to-man defense, led 16-0 after the first quarter and 32-0 at the half. It was 46-0 after three, but Ford City only scored 10 in the fourth.

Ford City had 11 players score and all 17 players on the roster got into the game.

“In a way, it's kind of like making history,” Davis said. “I don't know why all this negativity is aimed at us. We didn't want to sit our starters when we have a big game (against Burrell) on Thursday.

“We put everybody in. (Leechburg) got a lot of shots, they just didn't fall. It's a section game and every game counts. This all has been blown way out of proportion.”

Leechburg first-year coach Joel Ceraso isn't exactly handling the situation with kid gloves.

He also isn't holding a grudge.

“My girls had a rough time getting into the offense,” Ceraso said. “I know that some feel like Ford City should have let us score but I was not one of them. I told the girls that sometimes life is tough and no one will just give you something you don't earn just because it is so tough.

“That's a tough but valuable lesson to learn.”

One of Leechburg's top players, junior guard Missy Jones, did not play due to a concussion. Ceraso said Jones is the team's top ball-handler.

“Our other girls are great people but limited in basketball ability,” Ceraso said. “I stress what good people they are because they continue to work hard even after getting beat down game after game. They have been great to work with, they just lack the skills to handle (defensive) pressure.”

Ford City coach Al Davis could not be reached for comment.

While word is there is promising talent coming up through the program — the junior high team went 14-0 — Leechburg is having a rough season and struggling to score points.

It managed nine against Sewickley Academy (50-9), four against Apollo-Ridge (52-4) and five against Burrell (57-5).

Ford City beat Leechburg, 69-9, earlier.

Leechburg (1-13) does have a 44-17 win over Wilkinsburg, another team trying to refurbish a program. That win ended a 32-game losing streak.

In a season where there seems to be an alarming number of single-digit scores in girls games, Ford City's win marked the second shutout.

Serra Catholic was leading Wilkinsburg, 28-0, after one quarter when Wilkinsburg decided to leave to avoid a troublesome ride home during a snowstorm. The game was called and the official score was 28-0.

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