Zarilla steps up as Lady Lancers step into PIAA qu
Neshannock (46) Vs. Karns City (38)
Mar 16, 2017
By Joe Sager
New Castle News
SLIPPERY ROCK — The Neshannock High girls basketball team has witnessed different players shine during its historic postseason basketball run.
Thursday night, it was Ally Zarilla’s turn.
The sophomore guard scored 17 points off the bench to help lead the Lady Lancers to a 46-38 win over Karns City in a PIAA Class 3A second-round game at Slippery Rock University’s Morrow Field House.
“It’s amazing. This is the first time we’ve made it past the first round and, to win in the second round, is really big for us,” Zarilla said. “We’re playing great as a team.”
Zarilla tied Bella Burrelli in the scoring department. But Neshannock doesn’t care who gets the points — as long as they’re going up on the scoreboard.
“We need everyone — even the people who don’t play. At practice, we need them or else we’re not a team,” Zarilla said.
Burrelli agreed, “It’s definitely a team win. Even the jayvee players help us so much. Everyone gets credit for this win. We keep making history. It’s pretty fun; it’s pretty fun playing with teammates and coaches you love.”
Zarilla, who scored 11 points in the team’s 49-44 win over Everett in the first round, has emerged as another key component for the Lady Lancers (25-2).
“It was a nice game for her off the bench, so I just let her go in the second half,” Neshannock coach Luann Grybowski said. “Whoever is leading us, and it’s not always the same person — it could be a number of people, we need that if we want to be where we want to be in another five days.”
Neshannock struggled on offense in the first half and the Lady Gremlins (19-6) carried a 20-17 lead into intermission. In the second half, the Lady Lancers turned to their pressure defense to spark their offense.
“We mixed it up. I told them we couldn’t just play man-to-man and let Karns City run their stuff,” Grybowski said. “We started to mix it up and went to a couple different half-court traps, went to man and doubled teamed a little coming out of it. Aidan (Noga) came up with a couple big steals.”
The tactic worked. Neshannock turned a 26-24 deficit into a 34-26 advantage with a 10-0 jaunt in a 2:06 span. The team settled for a 34-28 edge to close the third.
“That was nice,” Burrelli said. “It was kind of a relief because it was so close.”
The Lady Lancers’ defense remained strong in the fourth quarter and the offense did enough to thwart any Karns City rallies.
“We try to get a separation and, once we get one, we’re more methodical on the offensive end,” Grybowski said. “It’s a culmination of stuff. The kids play so hard. Everybody that got a couple minutes played hard.”
Neshannock meets West Shamokin (26-2), a surprise 59-47 winner over Delone Catholic (20-7), in Saturday’s quarterfinals.
“It’s great to watch them get to this Elite Eight,” Grybowski said. “I saw West Shamokin on tape and they’re pretty good. There is nobody bad left. Everybody is going to be good; everybody is going to have a couple players. It takes, five, six, seven or eight to win. I can say the second half was a team effort defensively and that’s what got us to where we are.”