Cold shooting dooms Monessen girls in loss to Union

Thursday, March 4, 2021 | 10:43 PM

The same problems that plagued the No. 6 Monessen girls basketball team all season came out in full force in its WPIAL Class A playoff game against 11th-seeded Union. As a result, the Greyhounds’ season ended with a 39-24 loss.

The Scotties (10-10) were led by Elise Booker, who had 14 points. Zoe Lepri had eight points and 17 rebounds, and Kendall Preuhs had 11 rebounds to pace Union.

Shooting woes, poor free-throw shooting and no rhythm doomed Monessen (9-12) as did an untimely technical foul called on senior Sydney Caterino.

“We were out of sync, and Sydney with her technical (foul), it changed the whole momentum of the game,” Greyhounds coach Janine Vertacnik said. “I have one senior, and I have to take her off the floor and it changes everything.”

At the time, Monessen was still in the game, trailing 22-16 in the third quarter. Caterino was tied up under the basket with another player when a foul was called. The technical came as Caterino pushed Union’s Kayla Fruehstorfer.

Fruehstorfer hit both free throws, something the Hounds struggled with all night. Monessen went 8 for 22 at the free-throw line, and Union went 17 of 25.

Another factor in the game was field-goal shooting. The Scotties defense packed the paint, not allowing the Hounds to penetrate. Monessen made only eight field goals.

“One of the keys for us is to play defense. We try to get after it, and free throws tonight, we stepped to the line and knocked them down,” Union coach Rob Nogay said. “Defensively I thought we played well. Missed some box-outs on the back side, but I think, all in all, we were looking to keep them out of the key and stay packed in so they couldn’t penetrate.”

The Hounds made just two field goals in the second half as the Scotties’ defense continued to keep Monessen out of the paint. That frustrated the Greyhounds and led to the technical and more poor shooting.

“(Union) packed it in because they know we can’t shoot from the outside,” Vertacnik said. “In warmups we hit everything. We hit every shot.”

Aside from Monessen’s Haily Johnson, who had 16 rebounds, Monessen was dominated on the boards. The margin was 50-34 in favor of the Scotties.

“That team boxes out. Five girls box out,” Vertacnik said. “We couldn’t even get around them on foul shots. They are well coached, well disciplined.”

The Greyhounds were outscored 17-7 after Caterino left the game. She did not return.

Monessen was led in scoring by Mercedes Majors, who had eight points.

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