The Eagles limited standout Danielle Freeburg to six points.
By BILL ALBRIGHT
NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. -- Even when they don't play particularly well, good teams many times find a way to win a basketball game.
That was pretty much the case for Grove City Saturday afternoon at Buzz Ridl Gymnasium as the Eagles overcame a lot of roadblocks to post a 45-35 win over Fort LeBoeuf (19-6) in the opening round of the District 10-AAA playoffs.
With the win, Grove City (22-4) will now face Villa Maria, a 32-29 winner over Franklin earlier in the day.
Defensive strategy: It was no secret going into the game that one of the keys to beating the Bison was to stop, or at least slow, high-scoring Danielle Freeburg. For the game, Freeburg struggled to score six points.
"We set out to limit the efforts of Danielle because we knew that she was a very high scorer, and I think we did a fairly good job on her," said Grove City coach Roger Flynn.
Rising to the occasion is big in the playoffs, and Flynn thought Shannon O'Neil did just that with eight points, a couple of steals, a few rebounds and some assists as well.
"She [O'Neil] has had that habit of coming up with big games late in the season," said Flynn. "She is the one player who kind of gets our energy flowing; she played really hard and I think the other girls followed her lead."
Although his team only trailed once in the game (15-13), Flynn was quite concerned that his team couldn't put the Bison away.
"I felt that we needed to get some separation somewhere or they could come back and beat us," Flynn said. "We were very nervous that we couldn't get beyond the five- or six-point lead until the end of the game."
One area that Grove City has excelled in all season has been from the free throw line. However, that was not the case Saturday as the Eagles struggled to hit 50 percent (10-for-20).
"That is unusual for us," said Flynn of the low percentage. "We have been a good foul shooting team down the stretch all year and I thought there were several situations in the game when we needed the front end of a one-and-one to open up a bigger lead."
Patience is key: Leading by four heading into the final period, the Eagles became more patient on offense and, as a result, were able to get good shots to extend their lead to 12 points.
"You can do that [run a patient offense] when you have an outstanding point guard, and we have one," said Flynn of Amber McFeely. "She knows what has to be done and has done a great job all season of doing it."