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Teams will try to regroup following layoff

| Friday, Feb. 12, 2010

Ford City girls basketball coach Al Davis has received numerous phone calls over the last week from antsy players wanting to practice.

Davis wishes he could have accommodated them more often.

Unfortunately, the record snowfall brought the WPIAL basketball season to a standstill late last week and most teams, including Ford City, haven't been able to gather for more than one or two practices.

The season finally is expected to resume tonight, and players must try to shake off the cold immediately. Playoff berths are on the line, as the WPIAL heads into the home stretch.

"Luckily, we're still playing for something," Davis said. "I've been getting calls. The girls want to practice. We haven't been allowed to go in (because the school has been closed), but they are very interested."

Originally, the WPIAL required section games to be completed by Saturday. However, league officials have twice moved that deadline back, and the cutoff point is now Tuesday.

The WPIAL playoff pairings will be released Wednesday night, with the postseason expected to begin Feb. 19.

The Ford City girls (13-6, 7-3) are in second place in Section 1-AA and have a shot to tie Apollo-Ridge (17-2, 9-1) for first. Both teams have two section games remaining.

The Ford City girls, which last played Feb. 4, will host West Shamokin (10-8, 6-5) at 6 tonight.

Davis has been coaching basketball for about 25 years, including more than a decade in his current position. He can't remember facing such a long stretch between games because of the weather.

"Never," Davis said. "This is unbelievable."

The Kittanning girls (15-5, 7-3), meanwhile, are tied with Hampton (13-6, 7-3) for first place in Section 1-AAA. Kittanning has won its last six games, including impressive section victories over Hampton and Franklin Regional, but hasn't played since Feb. 4.

The good news for Kittanning is it will practice today and Saturday before finishing section play with games Monday and Tuesday.

"We definitely had momentum at the end of last week," Kittanning coach Janelle Kotyk said. "I'm hoping we can pick up where we left off. We'll pick up with practice and try to fine tune. That will be nice. I would be really concerned if we had to play without a practice."

The Ford City boys (6-12, 4-5) are fighting for a playoff berth. They are in fourth place — one game ahead of Riverview (6-10, 3-6) — and have three section games remaining. The top four finishers in each section qualify for the playoffs.

Ford City, which hasn't played since Feb. 2, will host West Shamokin (1-17, 0-9) at 7:30 tonight.

"We haven't had a practice since then," Ford City coach Jim Callipare said. "We had one shoot-around. There's a lot of worry. These are big games for us. Not having practice, you don't know how the kids will react."

The Kittanning boys (6-11, 0-9) also last played Feb. 2. They have three Section 1-AAA games remaining but have been eliminated from contention for a WPIAL playoff berth.

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