Greensburg Central Catholic girls secure share of section title

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Thursday, February 8, 2018 | 10:12 PM


Greensburg Central Catholic's Anna Eisaman has been practicing extra free throws lately.

“We lost some close games when we didn't shoot fouIs well,” the junior guard said. “We've been shooting about 50 more at practice. I have been on and off with them. Today, I was feeling it.”

The pensive practice worked in her team's favor Thursday night as free throws helped GCC win another section championship.

Eisaman made 13 of 14 from the foul line, including 8 of 8 in the fourth quarter, to help the Centurions come from behind and get past Jeannette, 48-37.

It was Jeannette's senior night.

Eisaman fouled out with 19 points as GCC (12-8, 11-3) won its fourth straight section game and clinched a share of the Section 3-2A title with Serra Catholic.

“I've been telling her about those,” said her father, Joe, the Centurions' coach, about free throws. “If Jeannette doubled someone, Anna was able to get going and get to the line. She gave us energy. And Heavan (Hester) had a better second half.”

Hester, a senior forward, added 10 points.

Jeannette (7-14, 4-9), eliminated from playoff contention but looking to spoil GCC's title, was led by junior Dymond Crawford's 15 points. Sophomore Jada Bass added a career-high 13.

Crawford, who battled foul trouble late, scored 35 against GCC earlier in the season in another tight matchup won by the Centurions 57-46.

“I thought that was our best defensive effort of the season,” Jeannette coach Janine Vertacnik said. “We rotated well and got them to play our pace. But we let them get ahead and get into their pass-and-cuts, and they're slick at that.”

Jeannette led by eight in the second quarter, 23-16 at halftime and 31-29 after three quarters.

But the Centurions' power punch came in the fourth. Jeannette scored the first basket early, but GCC reeled off 16 consecutive points to swell its advantage to 45-33.

Eisaman's spin move and layup capped the run.

“Our shots weren't falling early, so we took it to the hoop more,” she said.

Jeannette had one field goal in the fourth when it was outscored 19-6.

“It was like a playoff environment,” Joe Eisaman said. “We had to fight for it. We moved a guard to the middle of that zone, and I thought that made a big difference.”

Crawford hit a trio of 3-pointers in the first half and scored 12 points to stake Jeannette to a 23-16 lead at the half.

GCC struggled to find offensive momentum early. The Centurions missed their first six 3-point attempts and went 3 for 8 from the foul line in the first half.

Jeannette freshman Brylin Hickman connected on a deep jumper to close out the first quarter with Jeannette ahead 9-7.

After Bella Skatell drove in for a layup to make it 12-9, Bass hit back-to-back hoops for the Jayhawks to increase the lead to eight.

Olivia Stawovy's corner 3 got GCC within 21-16 before Crawford scored inside off an inbounds play at the second-quarter buzzer.

In the third, Eisaman drove the baseline and scored to tie it 27-27 with 1 minute, 20 seconds to go, and sophomore Melina Maietta followed with a lay-in off a steal to give GCC its first lead, 29-27, since 5-4.

Bass tied it again, and Crawford's two free throws put Jeannette up by two heading to the fourth.

Bass's early field goal was all Jeannette had to offer until Bass made a free throw with 2:20 remaining. But GCC had built its advantage to 12 by then.

“In the end, they just had too much firepower,” Vertacnik said. “They're a four-headed monster.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BillBeckner.

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