Franklin Regional girls run away with win vs. Greensburg Salem

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Sunday, January 29, 2023 | 4:11 PM


Close losses have plagued Franklin Regional all season long.

The trend was getting tired.

The Panthers lost to Mars by three points, Plum by two and then three, Seton LaSalle by one and Penn Hills by two.

Five defeats by a combined 11 points.

Eager to reverse course, the Panthers picked a showcase event to finally get a win going away.

Sarah Penrod scored a game-high 17 points, and the Panthers held Greensburg Salem to one field goal in the fourth quarter in a 54-29 victory Sunday afternoon at the Shootout at Seton Hill.

“With all the close games, we feel like a punching bag,” Franklin Regional coach Bernie Pucka said. “We needed this so badly. We have some must-win section games coming up, so hopefully this gets us going.”

Franklin Regional (6-11) led wire to wire, using defensive pressure to produce offense and snap a four-game losing streak. The Panthers had dropped five of six.

Greensburg Salem (13-5), which had a four-game winning streak halted, lacked continuity on offense and never was able to string together a run.

The Golden Lions managed only three field goals in the second half and made just two 3-pointers.

“Franklin was really ready to play today,” Golden Lions coach Rick Klimchock said. “We weren’t sharp today. We had some good shots in the first half that didn’t go in. I felt like I was watching a different team from our bench.”

Franklin Regional built a 17-10 lead after one quarter, using pressure to force the Golden Lions into turnovers.

The lead swelled to 13 in the second quarter after Brooke Schirmer made a layup to make it 23-10.

Greensburg Salem clawed back slightly as Ashlan Price scored six in the second quarter and Kaitlyn Mankins started to get active around the rim.

Her layup made it 23-19, but Avery Musto made a 3 and Toryn Fulton hit consecutive baskets as the Panthers took a 31-21 lead into the half.

Franklin Regional opened the second half with a 7-1 spurt to push the margin to 16 (38-22).

As Penrod had more success knifing through the lane, the Panthers increased their advantage.

She made a smooth spin move for a layup, then scored again inside to push the lead to 50-21 with 6 minutes to play.

“Winning this one gives us momentum,” said Penrod, a Pitt-Greensburg commit. “It raises our hopes. We lost to (Greensburg Salem) twice last year.

“I wasn’t hitting my 3s, so I had to adjust to that and drive more.”

Price led Greensburg Salem with 10 points. Schirmer had seven for the Panthers.

Franklin Regional limited Mankins to eight points.

“We wanted to flip the script a little (defensively),” Pucka said. “We pressured their guards and denied her the ball.”

Greensburg Salem was allowing 32.3 points, the fourth-best defensive average in the WPIAL. Only North Catholic (62) had scored more against the Golden Lions.

Highlands also had 54 when it played them.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.

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