Gateway girls refocus for 2nd half of section play

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Saturday, January 18, 2020 | 12:19 AM


After a 14-point loss to Section 2-5A rival Plum on Jan. 13 at Furrie Sports Complex, Gateway girls basketball team members held a players-only meeting to share their thoughts about the game and the overall state of the season heading into the second half of section play.

“We just talked and got everyone on the same page,” sophomore guard Lexi Margolis said.

“We agreed that we just needed to work harder for what we want.”

The Gators, Margolis said, were able to take energy and momentum built from the meeting’s outcome and use it for Thursday’s 47-33 victory over Franklin Regional.

“We just communicated so much better (Thursday),” Margolis said. “We were so motivated because we know what we need to do to stay at the top in the section. We all just wanted it more.”

Gateway fell behind 12-9 after the first quarter but quickly grabbed the lead in the second and held a 23-15 advantage at the break. From there, the Gators put a stamp on a win that kept pace with the other teams in the section.

“If we can continue to play well as a team like we did (Thursday against Franklin Regional), it will be hard for teams to beat us,” Margolis said.

Margolis finished with a game-best 16 points, and senior forward Lexi Jackson added 10 as Gateway completed a season sweep of the Panthers and improved to 5-2 in the section and 10-4 overall. FR slipped to 2-5 in section play.

Gateway coach Curtis Williams concurred with Margolis that the win was a total team effort.

“We matched the intensity of FR, which played really physical and hard,” Williams said. “We played as tough as we needed to and got a good win. We got contributions from a lot of players. It wasn’t just predicated on one or two players scoring all the points. (Sophomore forward) Grace Weiskircher came off the bench and scored eight big points.”

Williams said he hopes his team can start another winning streak and build off of the win against Franklin Regional. Gateway continues section play with a key matchup Monday at Mars.

The Gators edged the Planets in a close, defensive battle, 35-34, on Dec. 16.

“The girls seem pretty energized moving forward,” Williams said. “I think they are starting to understand how hard we need to play and that the games aren’t going to be easy just because we are Gateway, and we won the section title last year. Everybody is going to continue to give us their best shot. We have to respond and give them our best shot in order to be victorious. It comes down to matching that level of intensity we see in each game.”

Plum had the section bye on Thursday and heads into its matchup Monday at Franklin Regional in the section lead at 5-1.

“The loss to Plum was the final straw in terms of them understanding how hard we have to work and finding that leadership voice among the players on the team,” Williams said.

Gateway pulled ahead of Mars (4-2) and Armstrong (4-3) in the standings. Hampton improved to 3-4 by putting the defensive clamps on Armstrong in a 35-17 win Thursday. Mars was set to take on Kiski Area (0-6) on Friday.

“I think it could be a little nerve-wracking down the stretch in the section,” Williams said. “The parity shows that anyone can win on any given night. It’s a pretty evenly dispersed section in terms of talent, and you see that in the results.”

Gateway returns to Furrie Sports Complex on Thursday for a section matchup with Armstrong. The Gators pay a visit to Hampton on Jan. 27.

“We might have underestimated some teams coming in, but after playing each team, we know how good the section is and what we have to look out for each time,” Margolis said. “We have to work hard to be ready, no matter who we are playing.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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