Hempfield girls get off to quick start with hustle, composure

Wednesday, December 7, 2022 | 6:01 AM

Two games is a small sample size. But to Hempfield, it can reveal a lot.

With hiked-up expectations this season based on success in the offseason, Hempfield won its first two games for a sweep at the Fayette County Tournament at Connellsville.

“We played with a lot of energy throughout both games,” coach Tom Brush said. “We made the hustle plays that we needed to make in both.”

If the season was an hour, it would only be a few minutes old. But Hempfield is looking to build on the early momentum as it looks to climb back into the playoff conversation in WPIAL Class 6A.

The Spartans defeated Connellsville, 57-22, and Franklin Regional, 58-51.

In the second game, in which Brush went against his daughter, Franklin Regional point guard Angelina Brush, Hempfield stayed in its lane when momentum turned in the Panthers’ favor.

“We kept our composure on Saturday against Franklin Regional,” Tom Brush said. “They made a huge comeback in the fourth quarter and our lead was cut to two points with a couple minutes to play. We remained calm, made some crucial foul shots within the last minute and got some big stops on defense.”

Brooke McCoy connected on six 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 22 points in the win, while Sarah Podkul scored 18, and Ashley Hosni had eight points and grabbed 10 rebounds.

In the Connellsville win, McCoy had 17 and Podkul 13.

A senior swing-guard, McCoy continues to prove she is one of the top all-around players in the county.

“She is shooting the ball very well,” Tom Brush said. “She has also stepped up her defense and rebounding. It has also helped her that other players have stepped up and scored.”

Brush talked in the preseason about building a deep rotation. He played 12 girls in the opener and nine against Franklin Regional.

“A lot of those players made key contributions throughout both games,” he said. “Ashley Hosni has been our best defender and was able to make things difficult for the other teams’ better players. Ayiana Martin really had a great hustle game on Saturday. Mia and Ava Shipman really played well defensively both nights. Mads Pevarnik stepped in and provided us with quality minutes in both games.”

Hempfield will get a quality test Thursday night when it hosts Penn-Trafford.

The Spartans have seven games before Section 1-6A play begins Jan. 2 at Pine-Richland.

“The start has definitely boosted our team’s confidence,” Brush said. “But we need to keep working hard and improving.”

Hempfield hasn’t started 3-0 since 2012-13. That year, it started 6-0 and finished 19-4.

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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