Franklin Regional tops Greensburg Salem for 1st section win

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Wednesday, February 10, 2021 | 10:16 PM


A few games ago, when Franklin Regional played Latrobe, the Panthers could not make a shot. Inside, outside, layups or putbacks — nothing.

There was a lid on the rim.

In their game at Greensburg Salem on Wednesday night, they couldn’t miss. Especially from long range.

“We know we have a lot of girls capable of shooting from the outside,” Franklin Regional coach Anthony Kobus said. “They just need to relax with the ball and play. They did that. They grew up today.”

The Panthers rode a lights-out start to their first Section 4-5A win of the season, connecting on nine 3-pointers and ringing up a season high for points along the way, as they toppled the Golden Lions, 54-37.

Sophomore Sarah Penrod made 4 of 6 3-pointers and finished with a game- and career-high 16 points to pace the Panthers (2-7, 1-5), who led from the opening tip to the final buzzer. They surprised Greensburg Salem with a 22-4 run in the first quarter.

The lead never dipped below double figures from there.

Greensburg Salem beat the Panthers last Friday, 34-28, and posted an impressive win over Penn Hills, 39-36, three days later. But it had no answer for Franklin Regional’s early firepower.

“They shoot it like that, they could have beaten a lot of teams tonight,” Greensburg Salem coach Rick Klimchock, whose Golden Lions (5-6, 2-5) played their fourth game in as many days and fifth in a six-day stretch. “No excuses from us. It was their night. It’s a covid year. Some nights, you don’t know what to expect. And 5A is a grind.”

Greensburg Salem started the season late because of covid-19 shutdowns, and Franklin Regional had to pause team activities for 10 days recently because of a positive virus case.

Momentum can be touch-and-go this year.

“It’s a weird year,” Kobus said. “Five of our first seven games were against teams with a (combined) 30-5 record. We’re starting to slow down and play our game like we can.”

Franklin Regional made 6 of 8 3s in the first quarter, three from Penrod, two from senior Maria Brush and another from senior Angel Kelly. A 13-0 run made it 16-2.

While the offense was surging for the Panthers, Greensburg Salem could not settle in when it had the ball early. Junior standout Abby Mankins picked up three fouls in the first eight minutes, which also threw the hosts for a loop.

“We actually have had some strong starts this season, but one of our problems is that we fall back as the game goes on,” Penrod said. “We didn’t do that tonight. We all played with the right mindset to win this game. We needed this win.”

The lead swelled to 32-13 by halftime and 48-26 after three.

It was 25-5 in the second after a free throw by sophomore Sophia Yaniga, who had been out of the lineup.

Senior Kathryn Nardo and freshman Sophia Reitz each scored eight for the Panthers, whose only other win came against non-WPIAL opponent Blairsville, 51-49.

Greensburg Salem, which managed just three first-half field goals, scored 24 points in the second half to outscore the Panthers but could only close the gap to 32-18 in the second half on a basket by 6-foot-1 freshman Kait Mankins.

A 3 from Penrod and consecutive hoops from Reitz pushed the advantage to 25 (45-20) late in the third.

It was 52-37 after an and-one play from Abby Mankins, who scored 15, including 11 in the second half, but the damage had been done.

“We opened some things up in the second off of some dribble-drives,” said Klimchock, who used to coach Franklin Regional. “And we made some more shots.”

Junior guard Carissa Caldwell added eight points for the Golden Lions, including both of their 3-pointers.

Kobus was pleased with the way his girls handled the large lead.

“We didn’t throw the ball around,” he said. “We did a better job against their press this time. And this was the first time we had everybody back all season.”

Franklin Regional travels to Gateway on Friday, and Greensburg Salem avoids practice again with a home game Thursday against section-leading Latrobe.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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