By Greg Gulas
Over the past four seasons, the Struthers High girls basketball team has won two league titles, two sectional crowns and two district championships, earning a trip to the regional final as well.
Three seniors — Ashley Hefferon, Isis Nored and Zosia Thomas — have been key cogs in the Wildcats posting two 20-win seasons and a combined 76-16 mark.
On Thursday’s Senior Night at the Struthers Field House, it was Hefferon who added an exclamation mark for her class in her team’s regular-season finale.
Hefferon scored a game-high 23 points while McKenna Shives added 12 points and Ashleigh Ryan 11 as the Wildcats stopped Polands, 59-30, in All-American Conference American Division action.
“Ashley [Hefferon], Isis [Nored] and Zosia [Thomas] have been with our program for four years and while Ashley has been a starter, both Isis and Zosia have contributed while coming off the bench and that has been a key to our success,” Wildcats coach John Grandy said.
“All three young ladies have a great attitude, great upbringing and great character. We played strong defense the entire night and right from the outset we were in shutdown mode,” Grandy said. “The first half was without a doubt our best defensive effort of the season.”
Hefferon’s six points in the opening period staked Struthers (17-4, 8-2) to a 16-4 advantage.
The Wildcats proceeded to score the first 12 points of the second quarter, keyed by Hefferon’s four points.
“It was important to end the regular season on a winning note so that we could have some momentum heading into tournament play,” Hefferon said. “We now have an 11-day break before everything gets under way so we plan on practicing 10 times harder because we have some unfinished business to take care of,” Hefferon said. “This team is like my second family, we’re that close.”
Struthers held a 39-25 rebound advantage with Ryan hauling in a game-high 11 caroms, giving her the only double-double on the night.
“Struthers came out with more intensity, yet we got better as the game progressed,” Poland coach Nick Blanch said.
“You cannot start poorly and must play four quarters of solid basketball, especially against a quality team like Struthers if you expect to win.”