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Sports

Southmoreland beat Belle Vernon, improve to 4-0

| Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2008

The Southmoreland girls basketball team survived a shaky first quarter and remained unbeaten with a 42-36 non-section victory over visiting Belle Vernon.

The Scotties scored just six points in the first period, five of them from Kelsey Richardson, before storming back to tie the game at the half and take the lead after the break.

"We need to practice," Southmoreland coach Brian Pritts said. "We haven't gotten to practice since last Thursday. We're out of rhythm, out of sync. We need a day in the gym."

Belle Vernon quickly built an 8-1 lead on a couple of baskets from Jocelyn Connolly, who finished with a game-high 14 points. Lisa Manderino drove the lane for a pair of baskets late in the first quarter to help the Leopards take a 14-6 lead.

Pritts said that, fortunately, the Scotties (4-0) are athletic and hard-working, two qualities that came in handy after the team's sluggish start.

"We switched things up a little bit," he said. "We used our athleticism to our advantage, and it worked for us."

After giving up the first two field goals of the second quarter, Southmoreland's defense toughened and its offense broke loose for a 14-2 run. Miranda Mills stole an inbound pass and sank a shot from just inside the 3-point arc to pull the Lady Scotties within 20-14, and Nicole Pizzola sent a pass to Erica Jurkowski, who put in a layup to make it 20-20 at the half.

Manderino (10 points) gave Belle Vernon the lead at the start of the third, but Southmoreland bounced back on a strong effort from Amanda Gross, who scored six of her team-high 11 points in the period to lift the Lady Scotties to a 32-28 edge.

Belle Vernon coach Tim Keefer said early foul trouble and impatience hindered the Leopards (1-2).

"We got in a little bit of foul trouble early and had to play a little bit of zone that we never play," he said. "Our substitutes are young. We tried to play a little zone, get them a little bit (of work). We came out (in the second half), took a couple bad shots. We've got to have a little patience."

Southmoreland will host Laurel Highlands in the Section 3-AAA opener Thursday.

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