Fresh start for Southmoreland in maiden voyage into PIAA girls basketball playoffs

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Thursday, March 5, 2020 | 9:19 PM


Forgive Southmoreland girls basketball coaches and players for not knowing what to expect in the PIAA playoffs.

This is their first time in the state tournament, but don’t expect uncertainty to bother the Scotties much.

All coach Brian Pritts knows is his WPIAL runner-up team looks like it is ready to start another run.

“I know I came into the gym (Monday) and they still want to play ball,” Pritts said.

Southmoreland (24-1) opens the Class 4A tournament at 2 p.m. Saturday against District 6 runner-up Huntingdon (13-11) at Greensburg Salem.

“We have more of a drive now to keep winning,” Scotties senior guard Erika Sherbondy said. “We all have the stamina to keep going.”

Thrilled with the game site, the Scotties will look to rebound from their only loss and move ahead in the state bracket.

“We’ve played 25 games, and we have one loss,” Pritts said. “We’re confident in how we play and what we do. We just want to fine-tune the mental part and work on making better decisions with the ball.”

Again, the unfamiliarity factor looms. But they hope it proves groundless.

“I have talked with people who have been (to states),” Pritts said. “(Serra coach) Bill Cleary and some other guys who were at (Petersen Events Center). They all say the key is the girls still wanting to play and make a run. The season can be a grind.”

Southmoreland, which lost 61-44 to top-seeded North Catholic in its first WPIAL finals appearance, planned scrimmages this week against West Greene and Freeport.

The best girls basketball season in school history is far from finished. At least that is the vibe around the team.

“We’re recouping (from the loss) and getting back to working on things,” senior forward Sarah Pisula said. “We know we’re fortunate to still be playing, and we want to keep going.”

So what did not work against North Catholic, which made it a WPIAL four-peat against the Scotties?

“We need to box out better. They had a lot of second shots,” Pisula said. “We have to play our game and focus on that. We don’t want this to end.”

Pritts said the game likely would have been closer if not for unforced errors on his team’s part.

“We didn’t shoot it well,” he said. “And we didn’t move as well as we should have on defense. North Catholic is very good at what they do. They made 9 of 17 (3-pointers), and we made 3 of 17. We’re not going to make any full-fledged changes. We just have to play better.”

Pritts said a postgame news conference at Petersen Events Center helped his players cope with the loss and lighten the mood.

“That was the best experience for our seniors,” Pritts said. “That was like therapy for them.”

Huntingdon is coming off a lopsided loss in the District 6 championship, losing to six-time defending champion Forest Hills, 83-44. The Bearcats turned the ball over 15 times in the first half.

Pritts noted Greensburg Salem was the site of his team’s section-clinching win over the host Golden Lions in 2007. He said the atmosphere that game was electric and hopes for a similar setting Saturday. That season was the benchmark for the program until this season rolled around.

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

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