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Greensburg Salem prepares for talented Farrell

Paul Schofield
| Friday, March 13, 2009

Things returned to normal, sort of, at Greensburg Salem basketball practice Thursday.

The Golden Lions (22-5), fresh off Tuesday's 68-66 victory against Chartiers Valley, the biggest in school history, were back at work preparing for their PIAA Class AAA quarterfinal-round game against Farrell (23-4) 8 p.m. today at Slippery Rock University.

Greensburg Salem coach Paul Sapotichne said the practice was productive. They went over the different things they expect from the talented District 10 champion Steelers.

Farrell, however, was a dominating power in the WPIAL from the 1940s through 2006 and won 13 WPIAL titles and seven PIAA titles under legendary coach Eddie McCluskey. The Steelers had some great teams under McCluskey.

One of those great players was Julius McCoy, who until Tuesday was Farrell's all-time leading scorer with 1,471 points. Senior guard Marsell Holden, who scored 24 points against Highlands, surpassed McCoy and has 1,490 points at Farrell and an additional 399 points at Kennedy Catholic as a sophomore. He averages 27.4 points per game.

Holden, a 5-foot-11 guard, was one of three players to score 20 or more points for Farrell in its 92-67 victory against Highlands. Patrick Horton had 23 points, and Traphael Stubbs had 20.

"We have to be aware where Holden is all the time," Sapotichne said. "Holden shoots the 3, and he takes the ball to the hoop. The other players can get the rim and shoot it.

"They're playing very well and from everyone I've talked to, they're playing so much better now. They're so explosive, they cause turnovers. What they did against Highlands in the second half was pretty impressive, how they denied Highlands the basketball and played them so tough defensively. We'll have our hands full."

Sapotichne said it was a great day because his team was still alive in the state playoffs, one of eight in the state in Class AAA.

"Obviously, we're glad we're still playing and we're looking forward to it," Sapotichne said. "We practiced hard and we're focused. I'm not worried about this group. They've been a resilient group through, win or lose.

"I'm sure they celebrated the win that night -- I sure did -- but they were ready to go (yesterday)."

In the state tournament, Greensburg Salem has been led in scoring by guards Chris Klimchock and Jake Matthews. Klimchock has 50 points, including 30 against Chartiers Valley, and Matthews has 40, including 24 against Clearfield.

Sapotichne said ball protection and rebounding will be the key.

"We can't let them turn us over," Sapotichne said. "Chris has done that all year, and he'll have to get us into our offense. If Chris can't get the ball, other people will need to step up. That's the biggest concern.

"Defensively, we must contain them, which is easier said than done, and maybe the biggest concern is we have to rebound. They rebound it very well. If we give them second and third shots, it's going to be a long evening."

Sapotichne said the teams met in an undergrad tournament this past summer at Ambridge, and even though both teams were missing players, Greensburg Salem won by a point.

"They're awfully good, but so are we," Sapotichne said. "They won't be in awe of us, and we won't be in awe of them."

The winner advances to the semifinals Tuesday to play the winner of the Hampton-Holy Ghost Prep.

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