Call it shakeup Saturday.
In a sport where teams usually get Saturday off, Heritage Conference teams were in hot and heavy action over the weekend, and the results threw the girls’ playoff picture in the Heritage Conference into disarray.
With teams trying to squeeze in games in a season shortened and condensed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Saturday games became a necessity.
United left the West Shamokin Wolves shaking their heads on the way back across Indiana County, reeling from a 57-27 shellacking in the first meeting between the teams this season, which preceded tonight’s second matchup in the back-to-back. West Shamokin needs a win to hang onto the top spot it claimed early in the season but is in danger of vacating at this late point.
Homer-Center, which could have been the beneficiary of that setback for the Wolves, was upended by Blairsville, 63-47. The Wildcats could have vaulted into the top spot uncontested — depending on tonight’s results — but suffered their third loss in the conference.
Marion Center played twice on Saturday and won both games, starting at Saltsburg and moving on for a thriller at Purchase Line.
The conference semifinals are set for Thursday, but things haven’t settled after the weekend shakeup.
UNITED 57, WEST SHAMOKIN 27: United, torched on defense in a stretch leading into last week, put things in order on that side of the ball.
After holding down Purchase Line (44 points) and Penns Manor (34) to open last week, the Lions yielded only 27 to West Shamokin.
“We just came out and shut them down,” United coach Paul Hall said. “Every aspect of their game, we shut it down. We didn’t allow penetration, no 3s. Their transition game got a few points. We did everything right that we would.
“And offensively, whatever they gave us we took advantage of. (Brook) Murlin made a couple 3s. (Lauren) Donelson made a couple … (Maizee) Fry had nine 2s and we started to pound the ball into her. But it was all-around defense that won the game for us.”
West Shamokin coach Frank Nagy couldn’t dispute that.
“They hardly did anything wrong, and you don’t see that often in high school basketball,” he said. “They played as good a game as I’ve seen anybody play on film or against us this season. They played at their potential and did an outstanding job in every aspect. I’m not sure what their stats have, but we have that they shot 55 percent and 50 percent from 3, and we shot 33 percent and 20 percent from 3. Any mistake that we made they capitalized. If they had an open shot, they knocked it down. They played an outstanding game.”
United led 15-11 after the first quarter and took control while surrender ing one field goal for West Shamokin’s only points of the second quarter. The Lions led by 21 points, 34-13, at halftime, and Nagy pulled his starters with a minute remaining in the third quarter so they could absorb what happened and begin focusing on tonight.
“I just told them this is one to learn from and turn around and make sure it doesn’t happen (tonight),” Nagy said. “I know we’ll come out swinging and ready to play, and I expect their energy to be there. We just need to do a better job trying to hurry them a little on the offensive end and make sure if they miss we clean up the boards. It will be a physical battle — it was physical battle (Saturday) — and we have to make sure we correct our mistakes and capitalize on their mistakes and make sure we flip the script.”
United got results on defense despite no practice time. Schoel was called off along with all extracurricular activities on the the two days the Lions didn’t play.
“I don’t know what turned it around,” Hall said. “I think just pushing that defense wins games and getting that focus in their head that what we’ve got to do is stop these teams. The girls dug deep. ... We’ll get our points, but when the defense isn’t giving up points, you’re going to win, so that’s the main theme I’ve been pushing with them is defense and the girls are coming through right now.”
Fry finished with 21 points. Murlin hit two 3s in the game-changing second quarter and finished with 14 points. Duplin also hit a 3 in the second and scored eight points along with Donelson, who hit both of her 3s in the first half.
United did not allow a double-figure scorer. Sophie Fusaro scored eight points and Ally Schultheis had seven.
United, if it wins tonight, still has work to do, although the Lions would be heavy favorites against winless Saltsburg on Tuesday.
West Shamokin is off until the conference semifinals.
BLAIRSVILLE 63, HOMER-CENTER 47: Homer-Center had no answer for Lexi Risinger, who poured in 35 points, and couldn’t overcome the loss of Molly Kosmack, who was home nursing an illness.
Risinger, who passed 1,000 career points the previous evening, fired in 13 field goals, with seven coming in the third quarter when she scored 18 of her team’s 22 points. The Bobcats, who led 29-23 at halftime, finished the third period with a 20-point lead at 51-31.
A senior forward, Risinger scored all but two of her points in the first three quarters. She hit five 3-pointers.
Isabel Pynos, Abby Pynos and Julia Potts combined for 25 points for Blairsville, which is 6-3 after an 0-4 start and has the rest of this week to pick up some games in an effort to make the eight-team District 6 tournament. They entered the weekend 10th.
Sophomore guard Macy Sardone scored 18 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for Homer-Center (13-4, 12-3), and junior guard Marlee Kochman scored 13 points, but the Wildcats were missing the usual double-double production from Kosmack, their sophomore forward.
Vada Walbeck came up with six steals for Homer-Center.
Both teams play this evening. Homer-Center visits Purchase Line, and Blairsville visits winless Northern Cambria.
MARION CENTER 60, SALTSBURG 49: School was called off Monday and Tuesday last week, so Marion Center played Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and played a doubleheader at separate road locations Saturday.
The Stingers, after playing Friday night, started off Saturday morning by heading to winless Saltsburg. They led 29-20 at halftime, took control during an 11-4 third quarter and pulled away during a 22-12 final period.
Marion Center’s Jerzey Coble started a memorable day with a double-double of 10 points and 16 rebounds. Lydia Miller had matching 11s in points and rebounds, and Shawna Cook pulled in 13 rebounds to go with five points. Alexa Ackerman scored eight points.
Abbie Dickie led Saltsburg with 18 points and Izzy Koffman had 10. Savanna Fink chipped in seven.
Saltsburg plays at Penns Manor this evening.
MARION CENTER 46, PURCHASE LINE 44: The Stingers traveled from one end of the county to another for a night game at Purchase Line, and it turned into a thriller.
Coble came up big down the stretch, hitting two free throws to tie the game and scoring off an offensive rebound at the buzzer to lift her team to victory. She finished with 12 points.
Marion Center (6-12, 6-10) got the early jump and led 15-8 after the first quarter, but Purchase Line (7-9, 5-9) roared into the lead while outscoring the Stingers 19-6 in the second period for a 27-21 halftime advantage.
The Stingers stayed within striking distance going into the fourth quarter and then allowed only two field goals.
Miller scored a team-high 18 points for the Stingers. Cook had seven.
“We got off to a slow start and clawed our way back to a six-point lead at the half,” Purchase Line coach Kelley Goss said. “Credit to MC, they battled and hit foul shots and hit a putback as time expired. We struggled in several areas tonight.”
Bethany Smith powered Purchase Line with 21 points and 18 rebounds. Madison Scalese scored 11 points to go with five assists, and Goss had eight points and 10 rebounds.
Goss and Smith, both junior, were recognized for surpassing the 500-rebound mark for their varsity careers.
Purchase Line plays host to Homer-Center this evening.
PENNS MANOR 68, NORTHERN CAMBRIA 16: Penns Manor did not allow a field goal in the second or fourth quarter and rolled past winless Northern Cambria.
Kassidy Smith scored 18 of her 22 points in the first half, and Megan Dumm hit four 3-point field goals in the first half and five overall en route to 21 points. Anna Peterman chipped in nine points.
Anna Miller scored seven points for Northern Cambria.
Both teams play this evening. Penns Manor welcomes Saltsburg, and Northern Cambria (0-12) plays host to Blairsville.
INDIANA 79, UNIONTOWN 27: Indiana racked up a season-high point total and crushed Uniontown in a WPIAL Class 5A non-section game.
Indiana held a comfortable 26-5 lead after the first quarter.
Hope Cook hit three of her four 3-point field goals in the first quarter on her way to 20 points. Katie Kovalchick was right behind with 17. Cassie Boyer scored nine and Mia Ciocca had eight.
Summer Hawk scored 12 points for Uniontown (3-14).
Indiana (7-8, 4-6) plays at Mars today.
PENNS MANOR 65, NORTHERN CAMBRIA 42: A night after scoring a big win over United, Penns Manor hit the road for a day game and pulled away from Northern Cambria.
Grant Grimaldi scored 19 points and the Comets got 23 points from their bench, led by Bryan Koches with 11 points on the strength of three 3-point field goals and Ryan Gresko, who hit two 3s and had eight points.
“We had a great contribution off our bench,” Penns Manor coach Andy Lansberry said. “Twenty-three points off the bench is amazing.”
Northern Cambria’s Tyler Bearer, a senior guard, had 11 points and topped 1,000 in his career. Matt Sedlock had 10 and Mike Hoover eight for Northern Cambria.
Both teams play this evening. Penns Manor (11-4, 10-4) plays at Saltsburg, and Northern Cambria visits Blairsville in a matchup of winless teams.
MARION CENTER 57, SALTSBURG 30: Marion Center jumped out to a big lead against a rusty Saltsburg team that hadn’t played all week.
The Stinger led 18-5 after the first quarter and 35-9 at halftime.
Preston Fox scored 14 points, Justin Peterson had 12 and Carter Lydic and T.J. Lynn each had 10 for Marion Center, which closed its Heritage Conference schedule at 9-7 and has the inside track to the fourth and final berth in the playoffs.
Logon Bonnoni scored 10 points for Saltsburg.
Saltsburg (6-7) plays host to Penns Manor this evening.
APOLLO-RIDGE 78, LIGONIER VALLEY 76, OT: Talk about a shootout: Apollo-Ridge and Ligonier Valley combined for 42 points in overtime, which is only four minutes, in a WPIAL Class 3A Section 3 game.
Klay Fitzroy scored 16 of his 25 points in overtime to lead Apollo-Ridge. Jake Fello and Keighton Reese finished with 23 apiece. They split the other six points in overtime and scored all 13 for their team during a fourth-quarter comeback from a four-point deficit.
Matthew Marinchak fired in a game-high 32 points for Ligonier Valley. Issac Neidbalson scored 21 and Jaicob Hollick had 13.
Apollo-Ridge (7-3, 5-3) plays host to Springdale on Tuesday. Ligonier Valley (3-9, 3-6) plays host to Steel Valley on Wednesday.
SOUTHMORELAND 56, INDIANA 33: Southmoreland pulled away from Indiana in the fourth quarter of a WPIAL Class 5A non-section game.
Indiana led 9-8 after the first quarter and trailed 26-17 at halftime. Southmoreland stetched the lead to 11 going into the fourth quarter and then outscored Indiana 18-6.
Noah Hutton hit three 3-point field goals and scored 12 points for Indiana. Jake Fisher chipped in eight.
Freshman Ty Keffer made made five 3-pointers and scored 26 points for Southmoreland (2-15).
Indiana (0-13) plays at Mars on Tuesday.