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GCC girls eye return to WPIAL title game

| Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2007

It may seem like things are getting easier for the Greensburg Central Catholic girls' basketball team as it attempts to repeat as WPIAL Class AA champions for the first time in four attempts.

An 18-point victory over South Fayette and a 17-point romp over 2006 semifinalist Shady Side Academy aside, however, there is no doubt that the Lady Centurions realize just how difficult their road to the WPIAL Class AA title game Saturday at Palumbo Center will get.

Greensburg Central Catholic (19-8) must clear the next obstacle in its path Wednesday when it faces third-seeded Beaver (21-5) at 6:30 p.m. at Canon-McMillan High School.

"We've seen Beaver and they're a really good ball club," Greensburg Central Catholic coach Rich Rosensteel said. "They're big and they have three very good perimeter shooters ... and we just have to make sure that we use our man-to-man and take care of things defensively."

Beaver has a young team that has been led in the playoffs by a pair of underclassmen. In Saturday's win over Washington, sophomore Carly Vendemia scored 20 points and freshman Kendra Pilarski chipped in 11, but what may have been most impressive is how the Lady Bobcats stymied a tough Lady Prexies' offense that had been held under 50 points only once in its last 10 games.

Washington walked off the court after the 56-29 loss with the knowledge that it had been held to three field goals in the first three quarters.

There doesn't appear to be a likelihood of that repeating itself with Greensburg Central Catholic's offense. The Lady Centurions entered the playoffs as the highest scoring team in Class AA at 59.7 points per game and are led by Pitt recruit Ashley Henderson. But they aren't about to take anything for granted with a team that can ratchet up its defensive game the way Beaver has in its two postseason outings.

Greensburg Central Catholic has already seen a pair of quality defenses from South Fayette and Shady Side Academy, but was able to exploit them by using their transition game and playing solid defense in its own end.

One thing that Greensburg Central Catholic may have to watch out for is taking too long to get a feel for what the opposition is doing. The Lady Centurions took quite a bit of time to adjust in the opener before a 24-4 run in the fourth quarter put the game away, but cut their learning curve down immensely against Shady Side Academy and surrendered only three first-quarter points to the Lady Indians.

"You have to get a feel for the club, never having played them before," Rosensteel said. "It's very difficult in the first 8 minutes to completely track what the kids are capable of doing. We showed both of those teams great respect."

Still, the one advantage Greensburg Central Catholic will have is experience. Relying on players like Henderson, Jill Gregory and Kayla Marghella, who have all seen extensive action at this level of competition, will serve the team well in trying to repeat.

"I'll say this: Those kids that we have come out ready to play every game," Rosensteel said. "And we have film, we watch it, and we have a pretty good insight as to what their strong points are."

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