Armstrong girls clamp down on Kiski Area for 4th straight win
By: HSSN Staff
Monday, January 21, 2019 | 11:24 PM
Kiski Area hoped to break into the Section 2-5A win column Monday as it played host to Armstrong.
But the River Hawks turned away the Cavaliers’ challenge and stayed in the mix for a WPIAL playoff spot with a 39-29 victory.
“Any section road win is a good one, no matter if you’re playing a team at the top of the section standings or a team at the bottom,” said Armstrong coach Kirk Lorigan, whose team won its fourth game in a row to improve to 9-6 overall and move into a tie with Mars for third place in the section at 5-3.
“There are no bad teams in the section. I know the records might speak differently, but anybody who knows basketball knows how competitive the section is. To get a win to keep pace; it was one we really felt we needed to get.”
Armstrong held a 23-20 halftime lead, and a jumper from Loryn Bowser and a layup from Jaylen Callipare early in the third extended the advantage to seven.
The Cavaliers (4-11, 0-8) responded with a jumper from Sam Worthing and a steal and layup from Hannah Potter to close the gap to three with 4 minutes, 28 seconds left in the third quarter.
Kiski Area’s defense held Armstrong to just seven points in the third, but missed offensive opportunities, including seven turnovers in the quarter, kept the Cavaliers from making further progress.
The River Hawks led 30-25 at the start of the fourth as Kiski hoped to rally. But the Cavaliers struggled from the field over the final eight minutes.
They missed their first eight shots before Dara Zelonka grabbed a rebound and converted a layup with 2:07 to play to cut the deficit to 35-29.
Armstrong then salted the game away as Callipare sank all four of her free throws in the final minute.
“I thought we executed well in the first half, but we got sloppy in the second,” Kiski Area coach Nick Dizon said. “We weren’t as crisp with our plays. We made a few, for lack of a better word, dumb decisions, and we panicked a little bit. We just didn’t do our part in the second half.”
The River Hawks defense is allowing an average of 30 points during the four-game winning streak.
“We’ve been rebounding well and are only giving up one shot in possessions a lot of times,” Lorigan said. “That keeps numbers down. We talked about pressuring a little more. Potter is a great player, and we made some changes with her (in the second half) because she was hitting everything. We started to face-guard her more to try and take her chances away.”
Potter had 10 points in the first half, including a pair of 3-pointers in the second quarter. She finished with a team-best 13 points.
“The girls made some nice defensive adjustments after halftime,” Lorigan said. “I wish we could’ve been a little more efficient offensively, but we were able to get the win which was the important thing.”
Sam Worthing, who ended the game with eight points, also hit a pair of 3-pointers in the second quarter as the Cavaliers led 12-9 and 20-19.
Sophia Duncan finished with six points off the bench for Armstrong. Four of the six came in the final 1:30 of the first half as she put in a layup and sank two free throws.
Bowser led all scorers with 16 points, and she added nine rebounds.
Kiski Area returns to the court Thursday at section foe Hampton.
“For the past three or four games, we’ve been playing with the effort we need to win games,” Dizon said. “Some of the things we’ve struggled with have been basketball things. We have to rebound better and take care of the ball under pressure. But these kids haven’t given up, and they work hard every day.”
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at [email protected] or via Twitter @MLove_Trib.