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Sports

Kittanning bounces back vs. Valley

| Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2009

Less than a week after one of its worst losses of the season, the Kittanning girls basketball team posted its second-highest scoring output and put in an equally stellar defensive performance Monday night in a 64-18 defeat of visiting Valley.

Kittanning sophomore Leah McKelvey matched Valley's final team score with an 18-point game, and teammate Sara Ohm chipped in 16 and a team-high eight rebounds. Their big nights helped end the Wildcats' two-game losing streak and give them their first Section 1-AAA game since Dec. 15.

In Kittanning's previous game, last Thursday at Highlands, it scored a season-low 24. The Wildcats (9-4, 1-4) also had trouble scoring last Monday in a home loss to Franklin Regional, 42-37.

But the offensive struggles weren't there against against Valley (1-12, 0-6). Kittanning's 64-point night was just one point below its season-high of 65, set against St. Joseph on Dec. 26.

"We had a rough week last week," Kittanning coach Janelle Kotyk said. "The kids worked really hard in practice over the last couple of days. We really tried to nitpick some of the things we weren't doing well offensively or defensively. We really have to focus on improvement every single day, and I think they did that this weekend. They did a lot of little things right that they weren't doing prior to today."

Kittanning also posted a season-low in scoring defense. It was the first time the Wildcats held a team to below 20 points since Jan. 15 of last year.

"Valley is a really physical team. They're very scrappy and have a lot of good ball players," Kotyk said. "I feel as though I got a good effort out of all of my kids today, which is very important."

Valley actually scored half of its points in the first quarter, but it still trailed by double digits at the end of the period because Kittanning's shooters were hot from the start. McKelvey and Ohm scored eight and seven points, respectively, in the first quarter, propelling Kittanning to a 22-9 lead heading into the second quarter.

From there, the Wildcats' defense buckled down, though poor shooting from the Lady Vikings also contributed to their lack of scoring.

Behind 39-14 at the start of the second half, Valley's struggles continued as Kittanning's offense continued to churn out points.

Valley scored just four points over the final 16 minutes, while Kittanning began to rotate reserves in and out of the game. Kotyk was especailly pleased to get her bench some much-needed minutes.

After McKelvey and Ohm, five other Kittanning players scored four points or more, including 10 points from senior guard Keri Neal.

"We've kind of been a little one-sided, as far as offensive scoring," Kotyk said. "We really got even numbers out of everybody today."

Casey Bonk led Valley with eight points on the night, highlighted by a pair of 3-pointers in the first half.

The road only gets tougher for the Lady Vikings. They travel to Hampton (10-3, 5-1) on Thurday night.

Kittanning also has big game looming on Thursday, with section leader Mars visiting, but the Monday's win has the Wildcats feeling good entering the matchup.

Said Ohm: "I hope that we can carry this momentum into Thursday against Mars."

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