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Lady GCC Centurions work past trials

| Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2007

It wasn't a thing of beauty, but the Greensburg Central Catholic girls basketball team took its first step toward defending its WPIAL Class AA title.

With the Lady Centurions stuck in foul trouble, senior Ashley Henderson took over and scored a game-high 21 points to lead Greensburg Central Catholic (18-6) to a 61-29 win over South Fayette in the second round of the WPIAL Class AA playoffs Tuesday night at Gateway High School. The Lady Centurions had not played since defeating Jeannette in their Section 1-AA finale on Feb. 8.

"The layoff's always going to affect you a certain amount, and we had a scrimmage, but that's still not the same as an actual game," Greensburg Central Catholic coach Rich Rosensteel said. "That bothered us a little bit, but this was a gradual game. We gradually crept out on them and, once we started, we never stopped."

That was especially true in the fourth quarter, as Greensburg Central Catholic went on a 24-2 run that put the game away.

"We went toe-to-toe with them for three quarters," South Fayette coach Jim Dudas said. "That's a very good team over there and, to have five sophomores hang with them and be down 12 against them after three quarters, I was pleased."

In addition to Henderson, senior Jill Gregory scored 14 points, while junior Erica Keto added 10 points and pulled in a game-high 12 rebounds.

"We used a lot of people," Rosensteel said. "We thought that they would tire, which they did at the end."

South Fayette tried everything it could to jump-start a stagnant offense. The Lady Lions first attempted to push the ball up the floor and run with Greensburg Central Catholic. Then they tried to operate a stall in an effort to lull the Lady Centurions to sleep and hit backdoor passes for easy layups.

All that did was delay the inevitable, as Greensburg Central Catholic walked to the bench after the first quarter with a 17-7 lead.

"They do a very good job getting you off-balance with a lot of presses and traps - we were ready for all of them, and I thought we handled them very well - but we wanted to get them off-balance as well," Dudas said. "Ashley Henderson is a great player, and we wanted to run at her a little bit to get her to give the ball up, but they execute the ball so well, and they're a savvy team."

Throughout the first half, however, Greensburg Central Catholic did its level best to let South Fayette back into the game. The Lady Centurions had three players - Henderson, Rebecca Keyes and Lauren DePalma - with two fouls and a fourth, Kayla Marghella, who picked up her third with 3:13 to play in the second quarter.

Because of all the fouls, South Fayette had a golden opportunity to get back into the game at the free-throw line. But it was the Lady Lions who were feeling charitable after shooting a dismal 4 of 11 from the stripe, including missing the front ends of three one-and-ones.

Their poor showing at the line allowed Greensburg Central Catholic to take a 24-13 lead into the intermission.

"We haven't shot the ball from the foul line well all year, so it's not something that was new to us," Dudas said. "We were also 2 for 11 on layups in the first half. Our offense executed tremendously."

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