Hempfield girls basketball team gets tourney win vs. Seton LaSalle

Thursday, December 29, 2022 | 10:32 PM

Halftime adjustments do not have to be complicated. They don’t even have to be schematic.

In Hempfield’s case Thursday night, they were simple: relax and move to open spots.

“We were up eight, but we were missing layups and foul shots and playing rushed,” Lady Spartans coach Tom Brush said. “We should have been up by a lot more.”

Hempfield slowed its pace and made more deliberate passes to open the second half and the offense sizzled as the hosts dispatched of Seton LaSalle, 52-29, to sweep two games at the Hempfield Holiday Tournament.

Junior guard Ashley Hosni scored a game-high 17 points and pulled down a career-best 12 rebounds to pace Hempfield (6-3), which has more wins than it had all of last season.

It has won four of its last five with Monday’s section opener at Pine-Richland up next.

Nine of Hosni’s rebounds were of the offensive variety.

“I love (rebounding),” Hosni said. “I take so much pride in it. This is a great game for us going into section play. It gives us a lot of confidence.”

Seton LaSalle (5-3) played a 1-3-1 zone, which Hempfield had not seen all season. Once it adjusted, Hempfield thrived.

“We got more used to it as the game went on,” said Hosni, who scored eight in the third quarter when the Spartans outscored the Rebels, 17-3.

Brush went from telling his players to stop dribbling into trouble to high-fiving them for making plays. Crisp passing led to higher-percentage shots.

“We needed to spread out because things were open,” Brush said. “There was a possession where we made seven good passes and got a good shot. That is what we needed to do.”

Junior guard Sarah Podkul scored the final basket of the first half to give Hempfield a 25-17 edge, and the Spartans reeled off nine straight points out of the break to open a 34-17 lead.

They closed the third and opened the fourth with 10 straight points to balloon the advantage to 44-20.

Late in the third, Podkul made a runner in the lane, senior Brooke McCoy scored inside, freshman Ava Shipman finished a drive and senior Ayiana Martin took a well-threaded pass from Hosni.

Shipman’s basket increased the lead to 20.

Sophomore Mia Shipman’s putback increased the margin to 26 late in the fourth.

McCoy had 10 points, and Podkul finished with nine.

Seton LaSalle was limited to three field goals after halftime, including a pair of 3-pointers by senior Kyleigh Donnelly, who had 18 points and five 3s in a 51-50 win over Franklin Regional on Wednesday.

The Spartans held Rebels standout junior guard Mallory Daly to seven points. She had a 33-point game earlier in the season and has topped 1,000 career points.

Hosni guarded Daly most of the night.

“Ashley, Brooke and Sarah have been great leaders for us,” Brush said. “Ashley likes to do the dirty work. And we know we can match her up against the other team’s best player.”

Seton LaSalle had a 7-3 lead but was outscored 49-22 from there. Fifteen of the Rebels’ points came on 3s.

Sophomore guard Tiara Curry led the Rebels with 10 points.

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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