Greensburg Central Catholic girls want to make the most of year

By:
Saturday, March 18, 2023 | 6:39 PM


Greensburg Central Catholic girls basketball coach Chris Skatell said earlier this season he is looking forward to seeing what his team does as it continues to develop chemistry and experience, especially in the playoffs.

He gives a nod to the future but tries his hardest to stay present.

That magnetic tease of future title runs are fiction compared to current facts.

“Next year is supposed be the year: That’s what everyone is saying around here,” the second-year coach said. “They will have everyone back. They’re going to beat everybody.”

That is all fine and dandy, and there is merit to the sentiment because the Centurions could be one of the top teams in the state with its top three players, junior Mya Morgan, freshman Erica Gribble and junior Avery Davis, all coming back.

But there is one hang-up: This year’s team hasn’t taken its final bow yet.

“Next year is not promised,” Skatell said Friday night after GCC upended WPIAL champion Shenango, 53-35, in the PIAA Class 2A quarterfinals at Fox Chapel. “A lot of things can happen. Players can get hurt in AAU. Things can happen at home with family. You never know.”

In that case, GCC (24-5) is bound and determined to let it ride and make the most of this state-playoff run.

The Centurions will play District 10 champion and perennial power Kennedy Catholic (24-4) on Monday in their first state semifinal since 2006. The teams will meet at 6 p.m. at North Allegheny.

The winner advances to the PIAA championship at noon Thursday at Giant Center in Hershey.

“We thought (a state run) would happen sooner or later,” Morgan said. “We had confidence coming into (Friday’s) game. We knew we could be good. We scrimmaged our boys earlier in the season. We played them for like 15 minutes, and we beat them.”

GCC, the fifth-place team from the WPIAL who lost to Burgettstown in the quarterfinals and then played back for its state seeding, fits the description of a team that looks to be peaking at the right time.

The ball is moving, the defense is helping, and scoring runs look natural and fluid, not labor intensive.

“You hope so,” Skatell said. “I talked to (North Allegheny coach) Spencer (Stefko), and I asked him, how do you get them to keep playing (deep in the season)? He said it’s up to them. They have to want to keep playing.”

By all accounts, and by the look of the fourth quarter against District 10 runner-up Maplewood in the second round and the first quarter against Shenango, the Centurions have more to prove.

They are a group transfixed on a state tournament experience that is all new to them but becoming more graspable and comfortable.

Morgan had 17 of her 33 points in the fourth quarter against Maplewood as GCC rallied for a 61-48 win at Slippery Rock. Against Shenango, GCC came out firing like Pitt against Iowa State, taking a 22-2 lead and riding the early cushion to victory.

“We thought we were going to make the WPIAL semis but fell short,” Davis said. “We had to move on and start fresh (in the PIAA playoffs).”

Said Skatell: “We decided we were going to come out and play really good defense.”

GCC last made the state final in 1997. That team came back to beat Trinity, 48-45, to win the program’s only state title. GCC made back-to-back state finals in 1996 and ’97.

The ’06 team won 30 games but lost in the semis to Westmont Hilltop, 49-46.

Gribble, who leads GCC at 16.9 points and shows a maturity on and off the court that is ahead of her years, said the Centurions have the talent to win another state title this year.

After all, they are only one win from the PIAA finals in Hershey.

“We thought we should have been district champs,” she said. “It didn’t work out, but we knew we still had more games. Now, we want to win states.”

And if they don’t, there’s always next year.

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

Tags:

More High School Basketball

Passion for WPIAL basketball leads North Allegheny grad Hailey Zeise to Pine-Richland job
4th Tre Cunningham Memorial Basketball Tournament is biggest yet
7-time WPIAL champion coach Spencer Stefko steps down at North Allegheny
Longtime assistant promoted to 1st head coaching job with Yough boys
WPIAL basketball standout Meleek Thomas leaving Lincoln Park for Overtime Elite pro league