Greensburg CC girls adjust, top Serra Catholic to clinch share of section title

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Monday, January 29, 2024 | 10:11 PM


The first four or five minutes of the second half “dictate how it goes,” Greensburg Central Catholic girls basketball coach Chris Skatell tells his players.

He believes that is when many games are won or lost.

That stretch of time went pretty well for the No. 1-ranked Centurions on Monday night against No. 3 Serra Catholic as they shook off a sluggish first half and stamped at least a share of their third straight Section 3-2A title with a 59-47 home victory.

“We want everyone to score,” Skatell said. “Even when the ball isn’t going in the hoop, we want the girls to shoot. That creates pressure on the defense. We adjusted to the way they were playing us.”

Defense also creates pressure, and when GCC (14-5, 10-0) went from a 2-3 zone to man-to-man early in the second quarter, the offense started to take shape.

Sophomore Erica Gribble scored 10 of her game-high 23 points in the second as GCC turned a 22-16 deficit into a 28-25 lead at the half.

Serra Catholic (13-4, 6-2) had won three straight and six of seven.

The Eagles tied GCC for the section title last year.

GCC, which rebounded from a loss to Class 5A No. 3 McKeesport at the Shootout at Seton Hill — a team that also threw a 3-2 zone at them — has won seven of eight.

Gribble, a Division I prospect, said this win was a product of defense.

“Serra has some tough kids, so we know what we’re getting with them,” Skatell said.

Senior Cate Clarke sparked the Eagles early with nine of her 13 points in the first quarter. She pulled down 14 rebounds in the loss.

But the Eagles only managed one field goal, a 3-pointer from sophomore Niki Sfanos, in the second quarter.

“We changed to man, and it started to come to us,” Gribble said. “We got a couple of shots off of it. Some transition points. That built momentum. They couldn’t do anything against our man.”

Senior Avery Davis also rose up in the second half, connecting on three straight 3-pointers — with an assistant coach from her future college home, Wheeling, watching.

Davis finished with 11 points.

“Their defense was a factor,” Serra first-year coach Mike Voit said. “But the bigger thing for us was that they shot the lights out in the third quarter. GCC has a three-headed beast, and it’s not easy to limit them.”

Voit said this was the first time all season the Eagles dressed 10 players, due to injuries.

Senior Cara Dupilka and Gribble also made 3s in the third as GCC finally gained spacing and took a double-digit advantage. After sophomore Abby Dlugos scored at the end of the quarter, it was 47-36.

The margin swelled to 51-36 in the fourth when Dlugos finished on a break, and Gribble made a layup on a feed from Davis to make it 53-38.

Senior Mya Morgan found her scoring touch after a slow start, finally hitting a 3 before Gribble backed down two defenders and went off the glass with a left-handed move to increase the lead to 58-40.

“Gribs was special,” Skatell said, “again. That was a great move.

“I thought (sophomore) Jayla Peterson rebounded the ball really well, and Abby Dlugos rose to the occasion. Our girls tend to get on a roll once they get started.”

GCC made five 3s in a 19-point third and hit eight 3s for the game. Serra had just two field goals in the fourth.

“The girls know (about the section title),” Skatell said. “We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves.”

Said Gribble: “We don’t want to be co-section champs again. We have had some injuries lately, but we had girls step up. Abby, Avery, Cara, they all made plays.”

Sophomore Abby Genes led Serra with 14 points and senior Bri Battles, who scored 20 points in the teams’ first meeting (GCC won 66-53) was held to eight.

Morgan finished with the same total for GCC, and Peterson and Dlugos had seven apiece.

Sfanos made two 3s and scored seven.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.

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