D-9 Girls Basketball Quarterfinals: Union 47, Port Allegany 37

Lipps, Winchester rescue Damsels as Lady Gators’ upset bid falls short

Lori Chase
Port Allegany Reporter Argus
March 3, 2011

Two minutes into the third quarter of Saturday afternoon’s District IX Class A quarterfinal game at Union, Kyley Mickle drained a jumper from the right wing, and the hometown fans sat in stunned disbelief as the 10th-seeded Port Allegany Lady Gators took a 31-20 lead over their second-seeded Golden Damsels.

From there, though, it was all Union as the Damsels, who shot an ice-cold 5-for-26 from the field in the first half, suddenly started to find their range. With Port’s inside duo of Rachel Taylor and Renee Edgell mired in game-long foul trouble, a series of trips to the free-throw line helped chip into the lead, and the last of Sierra Smith’s four three-pointers brought the crowd to life and put the Golden Damsels ahead to stay early in the fourth quarter of their 47-37 victory.

“We had the first half, but there’s four quarters of basketball, and they played the better quarter at the end,” Lady Gators coach Kristina Francis said.

“They hit a couple of big shots, and it came down to depth and ball-handling – not even ball-handling, decision-making. We were up, and we didn’t play very well with the lead. We got quick shots and no second opportunities. Obviously, it was very big that Renee and Rachel were in foul trouble. That took our size advantage away. Eighteen points in the fourth quarter; they finished the game and we didn’t.”

One of the keys to the Damsels’ resurgence was a renewed commitment to pressure defense, which forced multiple turnovers during the game-deciding 27-2 run.

“We told the girls, ‘Stop allowing them to play their offense,’” Union coach Josh Meeker said. “One of my assistants, Nikki Davis, pointed out that they run everything through offensive sets – every time they come down the court they’re calling something, and it seems like they really want to run that set. So if we can take them out of that set and make them have to improvise …

“I thought that was a big difference. I thought our girls were playing the passing lanes a lot better, and not allowing them to get that first pass to be ready to get into their set plays. That made a big difference for us.”

Tina Lipps scored 10 of her game-high 18 points in the second half and added 12 rebounds to finish with a double-double, as did Mariah Winchester (14 points, 14 rebounds). Mickle scored 11 points to lead the Lady Gators; despite limited playing time, Rachel Taylor pulled down 18 boards, with Cora Bova adding 11.

On Tuesday night, Union was in comeback mode again, rallying from a 14-point third-quarter deficit to sneak past Elk County Catholic 38-35 in their semifinal meeting at Brookville. They’ll play Coudersport, a 64-41 victor over Clarion in the night’s other game, in a No. 1-versus-2 showdown for the Class A championship on Saturday at Clarion University.

Meanwhile, the 2010-11 scorebook is closed for the Lady Gators, but not before winning their first playoff game in five years and throwing a major scare into one of the top teams in District IX.

“I’m pleased with our season,” Francis said. “We finished 13-11, and the girls have no reason to hang their heads. They hung around with the No. 2 seed, and too bad we don’t get them again.”

At Rimersburg, Feb. 26:

J. Edgell 1 4-8 6, Bova 3 0-0 6, Mickle 3 4-4 11, R. Edgell 3 0-0 7, Taylor 2 1-2 5, Evens 0 0-0 0, Woodruff 0 0-0 0, Delacour 1 0-2 2, Drabert 0 0-0 0, Spallanzani 0 0-0 0. Totals: 13 9-16 37.
UNION (47)
Priester 0 0-2 0, Winchester 2 9-14 14, MacKinley 0 2-4 2, Smith 4 1-2 13, Lipps 7 4-6 18, Varner 0 0-0 0, Stuart 0 0-2 0, Hawk 0 0-0 0, McGarrity 0 0-0 0, Divins 0 0-0 0. Totals: 13 16-30 47.

Score by quarters:
Port Allegany 10 16 7 4 37
Union 9 8 12 18 47

Three-point goals: Port A 2 (Mickle, R. Edgell), Union 5 (Smith 4, Winchester). Fouls: Port A 19, Union 16. Fouled out: Taylor, R. Edgell.

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