GIRLS PIAA CLASS AA PLAYOFFS Sharon records 27th win, 71-51
The Tigers advanced to play Shady Side Academy Tuesday night.
By BILL ALBRIGHT
NEW WILMINGTON -- Some times you have to overcome a few obstacles to win a basketball game. Friday night at Buzz Ridl Gymnasium, the Sharon High girls basketball team was able to do just that.
Shaking off a sluggish start, the Tigers were able to put things together as they ran past the Wilkinsburg Tigers, 71-51, in the opening round of the PIAA Class AA playoffs.
"From where we were last year to now, this is a huge win for our program," said Sharon coach Gene Sarazen. "This is a big stepping stone for us and it just shows the determination of these girls. When they have things going, they can really play this game."
Although his team has played good defense for most of the season, Sarazen isn't happy with the way it has been playing lately.
"We gave up too many points in the first half and I had to get after them," he said. "We are not playing [defense] as good as we have all year."
Over the past three games, Sharon has given up 48, 48 and 51 points.
"I am not happy with that," Sarazen said. "I told the girls that in the playoffs I would give them 10 more points each game, but right now, we are not there."
Trio paves the way
Janine McDonald led the Tigers with 19 points, while Brittany Csatlos and Cara Dolci added 16 points each.
For Wilkinsburg, Kessler had 14 points and Jennay Banks added 13.
Sharon (27-1) will face Shady Side Academy (24-4) Tuesday night. Shady Side beat Martinsburg Central 44-33 to advance to the second round of the tournament.
Sharon put together an 8-1 run to close out the first period with a 17-11 lead, but Wilkinsburg came back to score the first six points of the second quarter for a 17-all tie.
The game remained close for most of the second period until Sharon again turned solid defense into points, as it closed out the first half with an 11-2 run for a 33-25 halftime lead.
Defense sets the stage
"We kind of went to work in the final three minutes of the second quarter," said Sarazen. "We were able to take the lead and played some good defense. Then in the third quarter, we went to a box-and-one on [Jaqquaylia Kessler] and I felt that totally disrupted them. When that happened, we were able to pick up a lead and when our shooters got hot, we pulled away."
Sharon made just 4-for-11 free throws while hitting just 14-for-34 attempts from the field in the early going.
"What is frustrating about it is that we work at [shooting] every day," said Sarazen. "We shoot 75 foul shots every day and when we shoot like this, it really puzzles me as to why it happens. Maybe it was a case of some nerves along with an accumulation of other things such as not warming up properly. We were just out of sync a little bit."
The Tigers scored the first six points of the third period on the front end of an 8-2 run to open a 41-27 lead before stretching their advantage to 50-34 heading into the fourth quarter.