Greensburg Central Catholic beats WPIAL champ in PIAA quarterfinals

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Friday, March 17, 2023 | 9:09 PM


The question was raised in pregame warmups: Could Greensburg Central Catholic compete with WPIAL champion Shenango?

GCC was, after all, the fifth-place team in the district.

The answer presented itself about a minute into the state playoff game, and it was a resounding, glaring, glowing YES.

It was more like, could Shenango compete with GCC?

The Centurions scored the first 13 points, built a 20-point lead after one quarter and flattened the Wildcats, 53-35, in a PIAA Class 2A girls basketball quarterfinal Friday night at Fox Chapel.

GCC (24-5), which hadn’t been in the quarterfinals since 2011, advance to play Kennedy Catholic (24-4) in the semifinals Monday.

The Centurions have not played in the state final four since 2006.

“One step at a time,” GCC coach Chris Skatell said. “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. The girls want to keep playing.”

Shenango (24-5) made a mild push in the second half as GCC cooled off, but it wasn’t enough. The Wildcats’ winning streak ended at 15.

GCC made 9 of 12 shots in the opening frame. The Centurions were as hot as Shenango was cold.

“(Shenango) didn’t have the offense to go against our zone,” said GCC freshman Erica Gribble, who had a game-high 19 points. “We knew we could be a team that could make a run in the state playoffs.”

Junior Mya Morgan opened with a 3, and GCC scored eight points off turnovers — Shenango had eight in the first eight minutes — to widen the surprising gap to 22-2.

Junior Avery Davis sparked the Centurions as she hit a pair of 3s and tallied 10 of her 18 points in the first half.

She finished with four 3-pointers.

Gribble had 14 in the first half as GCC took a 33-10 lead into the break.

Skatell said the Wildcats reminded him of Maplewood, the team GCC rallied to beat in the second round. The Wildcats looked unsettled against the Centurions’ 2-3 zone, and GCC feasted on mistakes.

“I thought (senior) Cadie Peters did a great job defending against girls she gave up three inches to,” Skatell said. “Avery made a big difference.”

Shenango opened the third with an 11-0 run to cut it to 33-21.

But Davis quelled the back-to-back 3s, and junior Cara Dupilka finished off an and-1 to make it a 42-24 lead after three.

“We knew (Shenango) wasn’t going to roll over,” Skatell said. “He wants to win too. I told them, the first five minutes of the second half were going to determine the outcome of this game.”

Another steal led to a layup by Gribble early in the fourth, and Morgan made a reverse layup to make it 49-28.

Morgan finished with 11, following up her 33-point effort in the last round.

“Our defense, with Erica on top, made a big difference,” Davis said.

Shenango had not lost since Jan. 11. It was stopped short in the quarterfinals last year.

Janie Natale led Shenango with 11 points, Emilee Fedrizzi added nine and Kylee Rubin had eight.

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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