Her crucial grab came with 59 seconds left in the game.
By BILL ALBRIGHT
NEW WILMINGTON -- Julie Bell has pulled down a lot of rebounds in her career at Sharon High, but none bigger than the one with 59 seconds remaining in the game with Corry (23-2).
With her team leading 38-35, Bell worked her way for an offensive board, converted the putback, was fouled and completed the three-point play, and from there, the Tigers stretched their lead to a 47-35 victory in the opening round of the District 10-AAA playoffs at Buzz Ridl Gymnasium on Saturday.
"That kind of sealed a little bit and allowed us to keep the momentum on our side," said Sharon coach Mary Jo Staunch. "We were kind of getting wavy there and I think they were getting a little nervous, especially when number 33 [Jody Burrows] hit that big 3. That was just another great play by her."
Mercyhurst Prep next: The Tigers will play Mercyhurst Prep, a 64-37 winner over Oil City, in the semifinals.
"We needed this one because everybody kept telling us all week that it was three strikes and you are out since we lost those two tough games to Grove City," said Staunch. "These kids are just so resilient. They wanted this game, they were focused and they weren't going to let it be taken from them"
If there was a thorn in the side of the Tigers (22-3), it was the inability at times to protect the basketball. Sharon was credited with a dozen turnovers in the first half and finished with 22.
"That [turning the ball over] was the big thing we talked about at halftime, you know, taking care of the ball," said Staunch. "I think we got a little lax and their full-court, man-to-man pressure got to us.
"We turned the ball over way too many times. But it seemed as though we were able to come down each time and either make a defensive play or hit a big shot to keep us on top."
Controlled boards: The Tigers' control of the boards was a big plus as they outrebounded the Beavers by a 44-30 margin. Bell, with 13 rebounds and 10 points, and Valentino, with 11 points and 10 rebounds, both recorded double-doubles. Erin Leyde led Sharon with 13 points, and Corry's Jody Burrows scored a game-high 21.
"One of our goals coming in here was to give them one shot and make them work for it," said Staunch. "Those two [Bell and Valentino] really came through with the pressure on. They have two good guards and we made them work for everything they got."