Greensburg Central Catholic girls prep for 1st state playoff game in 5 years

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Monday, March 6, 2023 | 7:48 PM


Given its run of 23 straight WPIAL playoff appearances, it is easy to assume Greensburg Central Catholic is a regular in the PIAA girls basketball postseason.

But the Centurions have spent more time wondering what the state playoffs are like than playing in them recently.

They don’t know about the adjustments that need to be made to varying playing styles and officials. The charter-bus trips are new, and games are often against teams they never have heard of before.

GCC has not been to the state playoffs in five years. So the experience will be new when GCC (21-5), the fifth-place finisher from the WPIAL, travels to play at District 5 champion Windber (20-6) at 7 p.m. Friday in the 2A first round.

GCC lost to Bishop McCort in the first round in 2018. The Centurions’ last win in the state bracket was in 2017.

“It should be another basketball game for us, only this time it’s against a district champion that is going to come ready to play,” GCC coach Chris Skatell said. “The girls are excited. We know we’re going into a hostile gym.”

GCC won back-to-back games in the new WPIAL consolation round, over Brentwood and Serra Catholic, to earn the No. 5 seed out of the district. That followed a 50-45 loss to Burgettstown in the quarterfinals.

“Our chemistry has really improved since the start of the season,” junior guard Avery Davis said. “We need to make sure we get good ball movement. We should be okay offensively. We have shooters. We want to be able to speed up play.”

GCC has several AAU players who have competed in national-level tournaments, some of the events out of state, so the larger stage may not be as daunting.

“It’s step-at-a-time, game-at-a-time for us,” Skatell said. “Making the state tournament is not something we take lightly. Windber has been in states the last five or six years. We haven’t. So, we have to be on our game.”

Davis, junior Mya Morgan and freshman Erica Gribble — a talented scoring trio — play AAU for the Western PA Bruins.

Skatell coaches in the Bruins’ program.

“I don’t think the girls will back down from the challenge,” Skatell said.

A trip to Windber is certainly not a trip to Orlando or another flashy city like in AAU. And it is not a place where the girls will play in a showcase.

No, this road trip is an opportunity to extend GCC’s season.

“We know we can’t turn the ball over,” Skatell said. “It has to be sharing the ball and defending. We played one of our better games against Serra (in the fifth-place game).

“It has been interesting trying to balance time and rest. We didn’t scrimmage. You hope everyone is ready to go.”

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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