By Jim Flick
It wasn’t easy, but the girls basketball teams from United and Pymatuning Valley hung on to early leads for victories on Saturday night in the Division III sectional tournament at Mineral Ridge High School.
A 41-36 victory by United (19-3) eliminated Brookfield (15-7). But the Warriors pulled to within three points of the Golden Eagles, 37-34, with less than a remaining in the game.
“The girls played hard,” said United coach Sam Mathias said. “They never gave up, even it got close. We’ll take a win any way we can get it.”
“Some things have to get you started,” said United junior Emily Zehentbauer, who scored 10 points to lead the Golden Eagles. “You got to hit some important shots, and that gets the entire tempo going.
“Normally, we don’t get off to a fast start then the game kinda lags. Whenever we jump out intensely at the beginning the game goes a lot faster and do better in the outcome,” Zehentbauer added.
Taylor Smith, a senior, and junior Cassidy Yoder each contributed eight points for United.
Junior Tori Thompson scored 11 points to lead the Warriors.
Pymatuning Valley 56, Girard 49
Pymatuning Valley (19-3) defeated Girard (13-8) but had to withstand a 17-0 third-quarter surge by the Indians.
“In the second half, we did a lot better,” said Girard coach Andy Saxon. “We found the open person and attacked the basket.
“In the first half, we didn’t do a good job of handling Pymatuning Valley’s defense,” Saxon added.
“At halftime, we guaranteed Girard would make a run,” said Pymatuning Valley coach Jeff Compan. “They did, and suddenly that lead was gone.”
The Lakers led Girard 21-10 at halftime, and extended that lead to 34-13 early in the third quarter. But then the Indians launched their 17-point burst of unanswered points that resulted in a narrow, 34-30 lead for Pymatuning Valley.
The Lakers recovered to score the last field goal of the third quarter and outscore Girard 20-19 in the fourth quarter to earn the win.
“Teams that make a run like that use a lot of energy,” Compan said, adding that Girard simply ran out of energy in the fourth quarter.
Girard “kinda gave us a run for our money, but we still did good,” said junior Heather Brant of Pymatuning Valley, who scored 15 points.
The Lakers’ top scorer was sophomore Geena Gabriel, who tallied 17 points.
Girard was led by junior Hayley Spalla, who put 13 points on the board, and senior Courtney Kellar, who tallied 11 points.