GIRARD — A classic CNC match up between the Girard High School basketball teams and St. Mary’s-Colgan ended with a split, as the Lady Trojans earned a 60-55 win followed by a 47-43 win for the Panthers in the boys’ game.
In between game, Girard took a moment to recognize its seniors.
The Girard seniors include Jacey Murphy, Sydnee Crain, Ethan Goff and Brett Ferguson.
“They mean so much to this program,” GHS girls’ basketball head coach Brad Herlocker said. “They’ve been to three consecutive state tournaments and have a chance to make it four this season. I’m just proud of both of them and they’ve both made huge plays for us tonight.”
“Ethan has started for us the past couple of years and has gotten a lot of varsity time,” GHS boys’ basketball head coach Rod Wescott said. “He’s really playing well right now and I’m very happy for him. For Brett, this is the first year he’s gotten much playing time at the varsity level and he stepped into a starting role. If you look at where he was at the beginning of the season to now, you would see that he’s come a long way and has been doing some great things for us. I’m just really happy for these two.”
LADY TROJANS PULL AWAY IN SECOND HALF
Following eight lead changes in the first half, the Lady Trojans took over in the third out scoring the Panthers 8-1 in the opening minutes en route to the win.
“Colgan has a great basketball team,” Herlocker said. “There were been a lot of times where our kids did everything right defensively and they still made plays. I thought the big difference in the second half was that we were doing a much better job of moving the ball around and noticing open shooters. Defensively, I thought we did a better job of boxing out and not giving them second chances.”
Following a layup by Kate Radell with under a minute remaining in the first quarter, the Trojans tied the score at 18-all on a layup by Jordanne Ferguson just before the buzzer and went on to take a 26-20 advantage halfway through the second quarter on the strength of six points scored between Gabbi Sands and Murphy.
The Panthers rallied to tie the score at 28-28 by halftime, after ending the second quarter with an 8-2 run which was highlighted by six points from Radell and included two points from Aubri Piccini.
Girard regained control in the second half, as four points by Brittley Bailey lifted the Lady Trojans to a 36-29 advantage.
GHS continued to gradually pull away and extended the lead to double digits with under five minutes remaining in regulation thanks to a 9-2 run which included three points apiece from Jaada Valley, Bailey and Sands.
The Panthers pulled back to within five in the final minutes — led by six points from Piccini — but couldn’t close out the rally before the final buzzer.
Crain led the way for the Trojans on offense with a team-high 29 points in the win.
Bailey also scored in double figures, finishing with 11 points.
For Colgan, Radell was the offensive catalyst with 21 points, while her teammate Marci VanBecelaere contributed 17 points.
COLGAN BOYS RALLY IN THIRD QUARTER
Game two swung in favor of the Panthers late in the first half, as they overcame an eight-point deficit by shifting momentum in their favor near the end of the second quarter.
Colgan went on to take the lead with a 12-2 run in the third quarter and sealed it in the fourth with disciplined defense.
“The difference was the way we ended the first half,” SMC head coach Wayne Cichon said. “We were able to get a jump on them in the back court and frustrate their offense. Another big factor in the win was our bench depth. I told our kids in the third quarter that we need to make sure we don’t allow easy lanes to the basket and we need to find good shots on the offensive end. They were able to do those two things and I think they wore down. We were able to play the game at our pace and I think they just ran out of gas quicker than we did.”
A pair of 3-pointers by Ethan Goff in the early going of the third quarter extended the Trojans’ lead to seven, but the Panthers went on to take the lead at 35-32 heading into the fourth by out scoring Girard 12-2 in the final five minutes.
The run was highlighted by six points from Jeremiah Buche and included two points apiece from Cal Marquardt, Cade Simmons and Aaron Higginbotham.
Another 3-pointer by Goff to begin the fourth quarter tied the game at 35-all, but the Panthers regained control with a 9-2 run which was led by four points from Bradley Beykirch.
GHS responded with back-to-back 3-pointers by Evan Troike to cut the deficit to one with just under two minutes remaining.
The Trojans immediately fouled on the following possession and got the miss at the foul line they were looking for, but an offensive rebound by Bradley Beykirch kept the ball in possession of the Panthers.
Beykirch managed to knock down one of two at the line and then helped the Panthers force a turnover on the other end with the clock winding down.
Higginbotham went to the stripe after being intentionally fouled following the turnover and sealed the win with a pair of free throws.
“They had a few big runs that were key for them,” Wescott said. “We had a bad stretch before halftime and they made a run. I just don’t know that we were able to recover from that. They did a nice job of keeping the pressure on us and staying after us. You just have to stay focused and tuned in to what’s going on and we weren’t able to do those things.”
For the Panthers, Buche led the way with 15 points followed by Beykirch with nine points.
Goff was the team leader in scoring for Girard with 24 points, while his teammate Muia cashed in with nine points.
Both teams will be on the road at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, with the Panthers travelling to Galena and the Trojans to Riverton.
— Jordan Buckamneer is the sports editor of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. E-mail him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @jbuckamneer.