Greensburg Central Catholic girls right ship vs. Clairton

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Thursday, January 11, 2024 | 9:07 PM


Down one of their best players and facing the top scorer in the WPIAL, Greensburg Central Catholic was sure not to ignore the signs when Clairton came to town in a 1 vs. 2 girls basketball matchup.

Watch out for tired legs.

Trap game ahead.

Beware of Wade.

Junior point guard Iyanna Wade, who came in averaging 39.2 points for the Bears, is a handful despite her 5-foot-3 frame. The 1,300-plus-point career scorer has games of 48, 49 and 50 points this season.

Wade settled for 31 this time, but top-ranked GCC’s backcourt tandem of sophomore Erica Gribble and junior Avery Davis were too much, combining for 58 points and making sure a two-game losing streak didn’t reach three in a 78-60 victory Thursday night in Section 3-2A.

Gribble had 33 and Davis 25, including five 3-pointers, as GCC (8-4, 4-0) played its second game in as many nights without senior guard and second-leading scorer Mya Morgan.

Morgan, a Cal (Pa.) commit, has a strained knee and is hoping to come back next week. The injury occurred in the second quarter of last Saturday’s game at North Catholic.

GCC used the long ball to maintain a double-digit lead, and pressure defense to create points off turnovers, in bouncing back from a loss to 5A No. 1 Oakland Catholic.

“I thought we defended her well,” Gribble said of Wade, who made a half-court buzzer-beater for the No. 2 Bears (9-2, 3-2), the owners of two straight section losses. “We didn’t want her to penetrate, and we wanted to give her a challenge. She has a high level of competitiveness.”

Gribble, who picked up another Division I scholarship offer this week, from Monmouth, scored 16 in the second quarter as GCC put up 28 on the way to a 44-27 halftime lead.

Clairton led briefly, at 5-4 and cut the deficit to 16-12 after one quarter.

It was 16-15 early in the second but Gribble took over, scoring 10 straight, including a layup off a steal and a 3, to push the advantage to 20 (39-19).

GCC made 9 of 22 shots from 3-point range.

Davis’s layup off another steal made it 44-22 late in the half.

“They have shooters,” Clairton coach Carlton Wade said. “They’re are a very well-coached team. They have multiple AAU players, we have a AAU player. That makes a big difference. I don’t have big ninth graders to bring in in the offseason to load the team up. Our girls play hard, but we have what we have.”

Davis, a Wheeling commit who had eight points in the first quarter, said Wade is tough to defend because of her quickness off the dribble and quick pull-up jumpers.

“We wanted to keep her from getting through the middle,” Davis said. “This is a good section win for us coming off of two losses.”

Wade, who also made five 3s and drove fearlessly into the lane when she found space, had 11 in the second quarter and eight in the third but only five in the third. Clairton whittled the lead to 10 (44-34) early in the third, but GCC ran off a 16-1 run for a 25-point advantage (62-37).

Clairton kept pushing, even rattling off 12 points in a row in the fourth, but could only get to within 74-58.

The teams made six straight 3s at one point in the final quarter with Davis and junior Jayla Peterson connecting for GCC. Peterson finished with 11 points.

“It’s all about guard play,” GCC coach Chris Skatell said. “It took us a little while to get going. Avery got her shot going, Gribs got going and we got come fast-break points. I was worried we wouldn’t have our legs under us, but it came around.”

GCC plays its third game in a row Friday night against Springdale in a makeup from Jan. 2.

Freshman guard Karma Fuqua added 12 points for Clairton, which made eight 3s.

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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