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Penn-Trafford rolls into PIAA tourney

| Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Penn-Trafford will have its first girls basketball victory in the state playoffs indelibly etched in school lore.

Even if it was a rather forgettable showing.

Penn-Trafford (20-4) did not make a 3-pointer for the first time all season and committed 23 turnovers but still came away with a relatively easy, 63-37 victory over Erie East (6-17) in the play-in round of the PIAA Class AAAA tournament.

"You're always going to remember the first state playoff win, but we know that we did not shoot the ball that well," Penn-Trafford coach John Giannakis said. "The kids know that, and they know that, if we want to keep moving on after Friday, that we're going to have to shoot better than this."

Penn-Trafford was only 24 for 67 (53.8 percent) from the floor in the game but did not have a perimeter game to speak of. Despite normally having success with long-range shots, they had only two baskets from beyond 15 feet.

That kind of performance likely won't get it done in the Warriors' next game, as Penn-Trafford will take on WPIAL Class AAAA champion Shaler at 6 p.m. on Friday at North Allegheny.

"All we scored on was fast breaks, drives to the basket and turnovers, and you can't depend on that against them on Friday night," Giannakis said. "I don't know if it's because we've been off for a week-and-a-half, maybe, but that's no excuse. They weren't falling."

To be fair, a lot of rust was to be expected, considering that Penn-Trafford had not played since losing to Shaler, 60-47, in the WPIAL Class AAAA quarterfinals on Feb. 25.

The effects of the 11-day layoff were apparent before the opening tip, when Giannakis had guard Brittany Chiodo on the bench and ready to be introduced as a starter. But Olivia Rizzo had been penciled into the starting lineup and had to take off her sweats and be called out instead.

Both players contributed — and ended up leaving early — as Penn-Trafford emptied its bench throughout the second half. Twelve players scored, but Taylor Cortazzo was the only Penn-Trafford player to reach double figures, as she scored 15.

Sidonia Arnold led Erie East with 19 points.

Still, one area in which the layoff wasn't apparent was defensively, as Penn-Trafford forced 48 turnovers — an average of one every 40 seconds. For Penn-Trafford to pull off an upset of the WPIAL champions Friday night, it will need perhaps its best defensive performance of the season.

There will also be a long review of the tape from the last time Penn-Trafford took on the Titans.

"There's some positives that we can take out of that, and there's some things that, obviously, we have to show the kids that they did poorly. And lots of credit goes to Shaler, because they're so athletic," Giannakis said. "We have to find a way to attack their athleticism, and that's easier said than done."

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