Lady Panthers claw past Geibel
UNIONTOWN -- For one half, the Geibel girls basketball team entertained thoughts of a big upset over Sewickley Academy in Wednesday night's first round WPIAL Class A playoff game at Penn State-Fayette.
But in the second half, the Lady Gators (12-12) went ice cold offensively, and it spelled an end to their season as the Lady Panthers (17-6) took home a 35-21 victory.
"We got some easy shots, and we were able to push the ball up easier in the first half," Geibel coach Patrick Klocek said. "But they put a little more pressure on us in the second half, and when we went to the post, the 6-2 girl (Katarina Lackner) made a difference."
Lackner was a dominating force on both ends of the floor. Not only was she the game's leading scorer with 15 points, but she also basically set up a brick wall underneath the basket, forcing Geibel to take unwanted shots. Lackner was the leading rebounder and shot-blocker as well.
"She is the hardest working player I've been around," said Sewickley Academy coach Roy Parker about Lackner, who will be playing basketball at the University of Pennsylvania next season. "She uses her height, and she allows us to gamble a little bit on the wings. She is very intelligent."
Although Lackner was a force inside the entire game, the Lady Gators, to their credit, played Sewickely Acadmey even-up through the first two quarters.
Geibel took an early lead when Natalie Hozak banked in a shot to give the Lady Gators a 4-3 edge late in the first quarter. But Sewickley Academy's Jessica DeFranco knocked down the game's only 3-pointer to put the Lady Panthers up 6-4 heading into the second quarter.
In the second, Hozak caught fire and hit four baskets, including one that gave Geibel a 14-11 advantage. Hozak led the Lady Gators with 14 points on the night. Julie Cummings also buried a shot, but Sewickley Academy rallied late as Elise Kaye and Maggie Sutherland each scored to tie it at 14-14.
Late in the third, it was still anybody's game as each team managed just one foul shot through the first five minutes of the second half. Geibel's free-throw came from Abbie Renze. It was her only point of the night as the Lady Panthers worked hard to keep Geibel's point guard from running the show on offense.
Geibel's Sabrina Szabo scored to tie it at 17-17, but that's when the Lady Panthers started to put it away. Sewickley Academy went on a critical 6-0 run before Hozak scored to make it 23-19. Then the Lady Panthers ended it with a 12-0 run that lasted virtually the entire fourth quarter. Geibel finally broke the string with two late foul shots by Sarah Erdely. But by then, the damage was done.
"We wanted to play a 40-point game," Parker said. "We're happy to slow it down and give it to our big girls."
"It sure was low-scoring," Klocek said. "We felt pretty good after the first half. But we just didn't get the chances to run in the second half. But we are a young team, and I think our girls have a come a long way from the beginning of the season. This was a growing experience for us."
Sewickley Academy advances and will play Clairton in the quarterfinals at noon on Saturday at Southmoreland High School.