Freeport girls hold off Burrell rally in Section 1-4A victory

Friday, January 12, 2018 | 1:43 PM

The Freeport girls basketball team built an 11-point lead at the end of the first quarter of Thursday's Section 1-4A game at Burrell.

The Yellowjackets extended the advantage to 14 at the break and to as much as 17 with 3 minutes, 27 seconds left on the third-quarter clock.

But the homestanding Bucs didn't go away.

Despite struggling with turnovers throughout the game, Burrell trailed by only eight with 3:59 left in regulation.

But Freeport made enough plays down the stretch to hold on for a 48-37 victory.

Yellowjackets coach Fred Soilis said while the win was nice, there was frustration with the way the team executed at various points.

“It comes to a point that it's more than just the win. It becomes how you execute,” he said. “We can get the wins to get to the playoffs, but how you execute plays determines if you advance. We played a great first half with solid defense, but we just didn't show up the way we needed to in the second half. (Burrell) outhustled us and made shots, and they deserved to get back in the game like they did.”

A layup from Kaylen Sharrow trimmed Freeport's lead to 43-35 with half of the fourth quarter to play, but the Bucs didn't hit another field goal. Their final two points came in separate trips to the free-throw line.

Jenna Manke converted a layup with 2:14 remaining to extend Freeport's lead to 45-35, and the Yellowjackets hit 3 of 7 from the line over the last two minutes to set the final.

“This was a good win for us, even though it wasn't easy,” said Freeport sophomore Sidney Shemanski, who led her team with 18 points and 12 rebounds. “Burrell is a tough team, and we knew they would battle us the whole game.”

The Yellowjackets (6-5, 4-1) kept pace with Knoch in the section standings as the Knights routed Highlands on Thursday to also improve to 4-1.

Both are chasing Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic, which is atop the standings at 5-0.

Freeport is back in action Monday with a nonsection home game against Kiski Area before hosting section rival Deer Lakes on Tuesday.

Burrell (3-8, 1-4) got the opening tip but immediately threw the ball away. The Bucs finished the first quarter with 13 turnovers and had 20 at halftime as Freeport led 28-14 at the break.

Burrell ended the game with 34 turnovers.

“(Turnovers) create a high level of anxiety for us,” Burrell coach Meaghan Volek said. “It's tough for us right now to make one mistake and brush it off. We make a mistake, get frazzled and then a couple of more come. We understand that mistakes will happen when you're going 100 percent, but we have to be able to bounce back from them.”

Six 3-pointers — three from Samantha Clark, two from Madeline Clark and one from Shemanski — fueled the Freeport offense in the first half. Samantha Clark scored 11 of her 13 points over the first 16 minutes.

Madeline Clark tallied all eight of her points in the first half.

Burrell opened the second half on a 7-2 run to cut its deficit to nine, 30-21, with 2:09 gone in the third quarter. But just as quickly as the Bucs built momentum, Freeport took it back with an 8-0 run of its own.

Shemanski tallied six of the eight points with a layup, a jumper and two free throws.

Just when the Yellowjackets appeared ready to put the game away, Burrell came charging back again. This time, it used a 9-0 run spanning the final 2:26 of the third.

Sharrow, who led the Bucs with 22 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks, started the spurt with a free throw and ended it with an off-balance field goal from about 8 feet at the buzzer.

“The girls didn't quit and competed to the end,” Volek said. “I was proud of the way they fought back multiple times to get it to single digits. We just couldn't make enough plays to get all the way back.”

Sharrow had six field goals and added a 10-of-13 performance from the line.

“That's what we expect from her,” Volek said. “We need double-doubles from her each game, and she showed tonight she is capable of that.”

Bucs senior Brittany Dunn finished the game with one point — a free throw late in the fourth quarter — but she contributed to the effort with 20 rebounds.

“Brittany didn't have it tonight scoring-wise, but she was still driving to the hoop and looking to get her teammates involved,” Volek said.

“She's a monster on the boards for us. She's going to give you 100 percent, no matter what she is able to do.”

Manke, who battled down low with Sharrow all night, finished with six points for Freeport and added nine rebounds.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at or via Twitter @Mlove_Trib.

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