Freeport comes up big in 4th, holds off Belle Vernon
Monday, February 17, 2020 | 8:25 PM
After three hotly-contested quarters, Freeport was looking for players to come up big in the fourth quarter.
And seniors Sidney Shemanski and Madeline Clark did as the No. 7-seeded Yellowjackets held off No. 10 Belle Vernon, 44-38, in an WPIAL Class 4A first-round game at North Hills Middle School.
Leading 30-26 after three quarters, Clark scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter and Shemanksi hit three free throws and came up with a big rebound with 11 seconds to go and the game on the line.
Freeport (17-6) will play No. 2-seeded Southmoreland at 8 p.m. Thursday at Penn-Trafford High School.
Belle Vernon finished its season at 16-7.
“It was a nerve-wracking game,” Yellowjackets coach Fred Soilis said. “We let them back in the game. What hurt us was our foul shooting,. You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to figure that out. But at the end, we made them when they counted.”
After making 2 of 9 free throws in the third, the Yellowjackets made 10 of 14 in the fourth quarter.
“(Clark) has some moves to the hoop,” Soilis said. “If we made half our free throws, our margin of victory would have better. (Shemanski) had some big plays at the end.”
Clark had 13 points for the Yellowjackets, and Shemanski finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Freeport was trying to take time off the clock in the last two minutes, but two Belle Vernon steals helped cut the lead to 39-38 on a basket by freshman Jenna Dawson.
Belle Vernon starts just two seniors.
“In the fourth quarter, that’s where our youth started to show a little bit,” Leopards coach Ronnie Drennen said. “We wanted to feed Rachel (Wobrak) early, and they did a good job of taking her out of the game. She didn’t get a basket until late in the second quarter.”
Freeport couldn’t take advantage of six Belle Vernon turnovers in the first quarter. The Leopards controlled the defensive boards, but still trailed, 10-7, at the first-quarter break.
Dawson picked up her second personal foul early in the second and didn’t return until the final 30 seconds of the half. Freeport finally started taking advantage of Leopards miscues, taking a 22-19 lead at halftime after three free throws.
The Yellowjackets defense prevented Belle Vernon from getting the ball to Dawson before the second quarter clock expired.
Dawson and Wobrak each finished with 10 points. Dawson fouled out with 22 seconds to go — she picked up her fourth personal with 4:33 left in the game.
“That hurt us when Rachel fouled out,” Drennen said. “Jenna had to become our primary shooter.”.
Faith Reader and Wobrak had seven rebounds each.
Belle Vernon collected 23 defensive rebounds.
Freeport was 18 of 31 from the free-throw line
Southmoreland defeated Freeport, 63-23, on Dec. 7 when the Yellowjackets had two starters out.
More Basketball• Senior spotlight: Highlands’ speedy Sarah Sawhook selects Seton Hill
• Chartiers Valley’s Aislin Malcolm named Trib HSSN Girls Basketball Player of the Year
• Plum’s Kennedie Montue named Valley News Dispatch Girls Basketball Player of the Year
• Highlands’ Johnny Crise named Valley News Dispatch Boys Basketball Player of the Year
• Southmoreland’s Gracie Spadaro wins Tribune-Review Westmoreland Girls Basketball Player of the Year honors