Greensburgh CC topples Jeannette
Jeannette was one victory from finishing the first half of its Section 4-AA schedule undefeated and all alone atop the standings.
Greensburg Central Catholic was not about to let that happen on its home floor.
Sophomore Tess Zufall held Jeannette's all-time leading scorer Kayla Cook to 12 points and also led four Greensburg Central Catholic scorers in double figures with 20 as the Lady Centurions (7-3, 5-2) rolled to a 74-50 victory.
"When I took over the program (it seemed like) Tess Zufall lived here and she did all the agility drills, all the mile runs and the things that make a defensive player a great player," Greensburg Central Catholic coach Don Favero said. "She also has a lot of AAU experience and she's not afraid of quality players. She's our best defensive player and that's why we always put her against the best shooter on the other team."
Megan DePrimio scored 17 points and pulled down a team-high 12 rebounds as Greensburg Central Catholic grabbed a 42-35 edge on the boards. Lauren DePalma scored 15 points and Lauren McCauley 10 as the Lady Centurions kept this rivalry as one-sided as possible.
For Jeannette (8-5, 6-1), a team that hasn't had a winning record in girls' basketball in 10 years, losing again to Greensburg Central Catholic can only be chalked up as a learning experience. Jeannette is third in the Tribune-Review Class AA rankings.
"We thought we were ready (to beat Greensburg Central Catholic), but we're not quite ready," Jeannette coach Janine Vertacnik said. "We're winning in our section, but they've been in WPIAL championship games and state playoff games for 30 years and we're still a young team and learning how to win some games on the road. This was a big game and the pressure got to us in the second half."
That was especially evident in the third quarter when Greensburg Central Catholic outscored Jeannette, 27-12, to take a 56-39 lead. The Lady Centurions also held their opponent without a field goal for a 7:01 stretch of the second half.
Though this victory may not make up for section losses to East Allegheny and Shady Side Academy by a total of three points, it will put Greensburg Central Catholic back in the title hunt.
"I think people might have forgotten about us after we lost those two tough games," Favero said. "I'm not saying we're going to win it, but we're going to be one of the teams that's around at the end."
Neither team could do much with the ball in the first half, but Greensburg Central Catholic had a little more to show for its futility thanks in large part to an 8 of 10 showing at the free throw line. The Lady Centurions made only 9 of 31 (29.0 percent) from the floor, but were still able to extend their lead to six points several times in the second quarter.
Jeannette wasn't much better from the floor, especially in the first quarter when the team made only 3 of 13 (23.1 percent) from the field. The Lady Jayhawks also had a problem holding onto the ball as they committed 14 first half turnovers — seven in each quarter — with a combination of poor passing and mental mistakes.
In addition to turning the ball over and missing opportunities, Jeannette also had a problem controlling the middle against a much taller Greensburg Central Catholic front court. DePrimio had her way inside with 10 points and six rebounds in the first half even though she was forced to the bench between periods because of an equipment problem.
Despite its struggles, Jeannette was able to keep the game close with timely scoring from unexpected sources. Samantha Linsenbigler had six points in the first half, while Shanae Daye came off the bench and scored six of her 12 points in the second quarter as the Lady Jayhawks only trailed 31-27 at the intermission.
"In the first half I thought our man defense was good," Vertacnik said. "But then they got that run and got some momentum."