Lady Spartans shoot down Lady Falcons
Senior night for the Connellsville girls basketball team turned into a record-setting night for the Hempfield girls squad.
On Thursday night, Hempfield's Brittany Bell contributed a school record seven 3-pointers and finished with a team-high 23 points to lead the Lady Spartans to a 71-59 win over the Lady Falcons in the Section 1-AAAA finale for both clubs.
The Lady Spartans couldn't have shot much better, particularly in the first half, as Bell buried three 3-pointers in the first quarter, and Rachel Martinko scored eight points in the first quarter to lift Hempfield to a commanding 27-7 lead.
"Hempfield came out and shot lights out," Connellsville coach Bobby Renzi said. "We weren't playing that bad, but they were playing outstanding, and there's nothing we could do. Hempfield is a very good team."
The Lady Spartans (12-10, 11-3), who have clinched second place in the section, continued to shoot well in the second quarter as Bell knocked down another trey and Cara Esola (12 points) drained a pair of shots. At the half, Hempfield led, 41-21.
"We've been shooting pretty well the second half of the season, and when you're gearing up for the playoffs, that is something you have to work on," Hempfield coach Gene Brisbane said. "We have been working on it, and it's starting to pay off."
In the second half, Connellsville (7-17, 1-13) tried to match Hempfield shot-for-shot, as Miranda Stevenson, Elise Michaux and Ashley Reynolds each scored a pair of baskets. Reynolds, one of four Connellsville seniors (Rachel Means, Rebecca McGee and Miranda Stevenson) honored prior to the game, finished with 10 points.
Still, Connellsville couldn't close the gap, as Bell fired in two more treys to keep the Lady Spartans in front, 63-39, heading into the fourth.
"Brittany is an excellent 3-point shooter," Brisbane said. "Her shooting tonight was no fluke."
In the fourth quarter, Connellsville continued to battle. Means led the way with two 3-pointers and 10 points in the final quarter. Means finished with a game-high 27 points.
Although they could never make a serious push to get back into the game, the Lady Falcons were able to close their season with a respectable effort and were able to outscore the Lady Spartans, 20-8, in the fourth.
"Our girls were ready to play, and we hung in there and came back at the end," Renzi said. "This is a team that had fun this year, and that is what high school sports is all about. And I think you can learn more in life when you lose than when you win. I think this will help them in the future."
While the Lady Falcons have completed their season, the Lady Spartans will play two non-section games before competing in the WPIAL playoffs. Hempfield travels to Altoona tonight.