Wilmington girls fall to Sharpsville
Wilmington (33) Vs. Sharpsville (35)
Feb 25, 2017
By Ron Poniewasz Jr.
New Castle News
MERCER — Turnovers.
Poor shooting from the field.
Inability to hit free throws. And foul trouble.
All of them are a recipe for disaster for any basketball team, in the regular season or postseason.
Saturday, it spelled doom for the Wilmington High girls basketball team.
The Lady Greyhounds committed 18 turnovers, missed 31 shots from the field, eight more from the charity stripe and had two starters foul out in a 35-33 District 10, Class 3A playoff loss to Sharpsville in the quarterfinals at Mercer High School.
"In high school basketball, there's two keys — turnovers and shooting percentage," said first-year Wilmington coach Rick Holzworth. "The team with the least amount of turnovers usually wins the game. If you turn it over and shoot it poorly, well you have no chance.
"Our shooting was bad. You have to give some credit to Sharpsville, they guarded us well. We didn't make foul shots in the beginning. If we do, maybe that changes the complexion of the game."
Wilmington was 13 of 44 from the field, compared to 12 of 42 for Sharpsville.
The Lady Greyhounds' Sara Ruth fouled out early in the third quarter and Meadow Whiting departed in the same fashion late in the fourth frame.
The Blue Darlings' Claire Staunch went coast-to-coast, hitting a driving field goal with four seconds to go in the game to propel her team to the win.
Staunch, who is just a freshman, netted a game-high 21 points and a team-best 12 rebounds for Sharpsville (7-16).
"She's the type of player that would do that," said second-year Blue Darlings coach Katie Grandy of Staunch's heroics. "She's been waiting for a moment like this.
"For a freshman to take over a game like that was big. She made some big plays and I'm proud of her. As a freshman, sometimes that's hard to do."
Sharpsville advances to meet Seneca, a 53-31 winner over Greenville, on Wednesday at a time and site to be determined in the semifinals.
The Lady Greyhounds (13-10) were coming off a 6-14 campaign last season.
Wilmington, which never led, forced the game's lone tie at 33 on a 3-pointer by Lauren Frederick with 1:23 remaining.
"Lauren Frederick hit a shot there that she hadn't hit all day. It was a big shot," Holzworth said.
Timeouts were scarce for both teams at this point, with the Lady Greyhounds holding the lone clock stoppage for either squad.
The Blue Darlings turned the ball over with one minute to go and Wilmington had an opportunity to take the lead. The Lady Greyhounds burned their final timeout to set up a play.
But Sharpsville's Giulia Commisso recorded a steal with 47 ticks to go. The Blue Darlings' shot was off and Aleah Deal corralled the carom for Wilmington with 20 seconds left and no timeouts.
The Lady Greyhounds came down the floor and they fumbled the ball out of bounds with 9.5 seconds left.
"We made an errant pass there," Holzworth said. "We got a little anxious. I think that is indicative of what we have struggled with all year long.
"Even though we had seniors and juniors, we had no winning experience. This is their first taste of winning. We're young in experience and young in age. The magnitude of the game got the best of us."
Staunch then pushed the ball up the floor and stayed in front of the Wilmington defenders the whole way. She deposited the game-winner in the lane with four seconds to go.
"I didn't have a timeout so I couldn't bring my young girls in to try and call something," Grandy said. "I kind of left it up to them. We got it up with our pressbreaker that we ran all game.
"I think Claire realized that she was being guarded from in front and she just kind of took off. For her to recognize that as a freshman was a big play. Our out of bounds play, we recognized it and we just threw it. They got it down there and Claire Staunch the whole game was all about taking her man off the dribble and that's what she did. It ended up well for us."
A last-second heave by the Lady Greyhounds came up short and Sharpsville celebrated the upset.
"Nobody guarded her," Holzworth said of Staunch. "The best player on the team and we didn't guard her.
"We had four people running up the court. She went down and we didn't guard her. That's an experience thing."
The Blue Darlings were cruising toward the finish up 33-23 after a Staunch field goal with 4:17 remaining.
"I coach a lot of freshmen and sophomores, never in a game do I think this is over," Grandy said. "That's never something that's on our mind. Maybe a senior-led team you could think that. But in my head, I was thinking we have to get this four minutes off the clock."
Wilmington, struggling for offense throughout the matchup, fed off its defense to generate tallies. The Blue Darlings turned the ball over six times in the final frame and 22 times for the contest.
"We thought that our key to beating this team was turning them over," Holzworth said. "We amped up the pressure and turned them over. We actually made a couple of shots, too."
Sharpsville scored the game's first five points and held an 11-8 lead after one period. Wilmington closed to within 14-13 with 5:01 to go in the half before the Blue Darlings went on a 9-0 spurt to cap the half and forge a 23-13 buffer at the break.
Katie Hahn paced the Lady Greyhounds with 10 points and four assists, while Whiting and Ruth registered six apiece markers apiece.
Whiting pulled down a game-best 19 rebounds.
Frederick, who came in averaging a team-high 13.7 points for Wilmington, was limited to just five fourth-quarter markers.
Foul trouble plagued the Lady Greyhounds throughout the game. Ruth picked up her fourth foul with 2:39 left in the first half. She sat the remainder of the half, but started the second half before fouling out with 5:18 to go in the third quarter.
"That hurt us," Holzworth said. "We were down and we had to play Ruth. We were risking losing the game at the beginning of the second half if we kept her on the bench; we had to roll the dice."
Whiting also was in foul trouble and fouled out with 1:55 to go in the game.