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December 22, 2012

HIGH SCHOOL WINTER SPORTS ROUNDUP: Hickory girls top Slippery Rock

MERCER COUNTY AREA — The forecasted first winter storm of 2012 arrived earlier than anticipated. Unfortunately for Slippery Rock High girls’ basketball team it hit Hermitage Thursday night.

The result included all passing lanes closed and visibility poor, as all shooting sight lines were obstructed.

Host Hickory harassed Slippery Rock into 17 turnovers and a 10-for-41 shooting performance en route to a 45-24 District 10 Region 5-AAA opening rout.

At The Hive, Lady Hornets’ head coach Jeanette Whitehead said the key was her club’s “shell” defense. But it was more a case of Slippery Rock’s offense going into a shell.

“They were jumping our passing lanes, but to be honest, that wasn’t out problem,” 2nd-year Slippery Rock head coach Christin Miller admitted. “My girls decided not to run an offense. They ran one offensive set all night, and whenever you do that any team can beat you.

“That was our downfall,” Miller continued. “I thought, defensively, we did everything we wanted to, we held them to eighteen points in the first half; unfortunately, we couldn’t’ score more than five.”

While Slippery Rock shot 2 for 20 and committed 9 first-half miscues, Hickory had 4 different players hit triples as the Lady Hornets harvested an 18-5 halftime edge.

“Our first three games we didn’t have more than eight turnovers the entire game,” Miller lamented.

Trailing 29-10 entering the 4th frame, the Lady Rockets rallied somewhat. However Hickory closer Nikki Arbanas bucketed 11 of her game-high 19 points. She and Megan Chess both converted both ends of 1-and-1 bonus free-throw opportunities.

In addition to Arbanas, Hickory (1-0, 5-0) had contributions from Holly Grober (7 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists), Nicole LaCava (5 rebounds), Chess (7 points, 3 assists), and Brandi Beader.

“Very unselfish. We work well together,” Whitehead praised. “Oftentimes you hear me tell them, ‘Take what they give you.’ And taking what they give you means somebody else might be open — or you might be. And I think that just comes from having confidence in each other. They trust each other with the ball.”

Beader bounced back from a season-ending ACL tear and chipped in 4 points and shared game-high rebounding laurels with teammate Jenna Placzek as both snared 7.

“They came out focused. We prepared all week and we knew we had to play, what I would say was a good ‘shell’ defense. The shell’s basically just working together,” Whitehead related. “ ... Just a good, solid man-to-man  defense,  and working

together ... just sliding, knowing who’s in help(side), who’s denying, and who has the ball, Just working together.”

The Lady Rockets (0-1, 3-1) were led by Haley Angerett. But Slippery Rock’s sharpshooter struggled through a 3-for-16 performance to get 7 points.

“We completely fell apart offensively,” Miller admitted. “Defensively, we were ready for everything that they had. Hickory’s a nice ball team and you’ve gotta come prepared to play and you’ve gotta play four quarters. And your shooters have got to be on.

“I haven’t had that yet this season, where all of my shooters have been on at the same time. I was hoping it was gonna come together (Thursday) night,” Miller added.

Hickory scrutinized — and scouted — Slippery Rock. For Whitehead, it was simple: “We had a game plan coming in. The kids maintained their focus, and we didn’t steer away. There was one point late in the game where we reached a lull, but the kids kind’ve rallied around one another, and they stuck to the plan.”

For Miller and Slippery Rock it also was not complex: “On defense, we looked like we were ready to play; on offense, we looked like a deer in headlights.

“Now we just need to regroup,” Miller continued. “Like I told (the Lady Rockets), ‘We can’t let this loss define us.’ It’s one loss, we have the rest of the season, and it’s open season. We are a much better basketball team than we displayed (Thursday) night, and I truly think we are a contender for a run at the District 10 championship; it’s just a matter of making sure getting all our weaknesses together earlier in December, so we can finish hard in February.” — By Ed Farrell, Herald assistant sports editor.

GIRLS BASKETBALL

ä Grove City 59, Mead-ville 40 — At “The House of Thrills” Thursday, the visiting Lady Eagles erupted for 44 points during the game’s final 24 minutes en route to the Region 5-AAA rout.

Grove City shot 23 for 34 from the free-throw line, led by Jordyn Wyllie’s 7-for-10 marksmanship. She scored a game-high   23   points   for Grove City (1-0, 4-2).

For MASH (0-1, 0-5), Shauntia Vactor-Pope pumped in 23 points, including a trio of treys, to share top honors with Wyllie.

ä Mercer 51, Reynolds 30 — At Transfer Thursday, the visiting Lady M’s mustered a 28-12 margin at intermission in the inter-region affair.

Lexi Arkwright annexed a game-high 17 points for Mercer (3-2), while Megan McKinney mustered 10.

For Reynolds (1-4), Rose Stoyer scored 9 points.

ä Greenville 43, Lakeview 26 — At Greenville Wednesday, the Lady Trojans (1-0, 2-4) led 21-14 at halftime and went on to notch the Region 2-AA lidlifter for both teams.

Jessica Burnett bucketed 11 points to lead the Lady Trojans.

Casey Stringer paced the Lady Sailors (0-1, 2-4) with a game-high 15 points.

ä Lakeview 42, Commodore Perry 38 — At Stoneboro Monday, the Lady Sailors (2-3) edged the Panthers (2-3) in a thrilling non-region affair.

Marla Holland scored 11 points to lead Lakeview while Casey Stringer and Chelsea Davis had 10 each. Lexi Grinnell rifled in a game-high 17 for CP.

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