Kiski Area girls beat Greensburg Salem on buzzer-beater

Saturday, January 23, 2021 | 6:47 PM

Finally, Greensburg Salem took the court for a girls basketball game.

A quick start led to an early double-digit lead against Kiski Area, and it appeared a season opener unlike any other was the Golden Lions’ to lose.

Turns out, it was Kiski Area’s to win.

Despite an 0-for-9 start from the field, an 11-point deficit and fleeting momentum, the visiting Cavaliers saved their best for last and dealt the Golden Lions a heartbreaker.

Senior Sam Worthing stole the ball in the waning seconds and passed ahead to freshman Abby Johns, who finished with a left-handed layup high off the glass to beat the buzzer and give Kiski Area a 33-31 win Saturday afternoon in a nonsection game.

No. 1 found No. 2 on the break to sink the Golden Lions in their first Class 5A game.

“I just ran. I was just hoping to get it in to help my team,” Johns said. “It felt so good. I just heard everyone screaming the countdown, and I just threw it up. It was so amazing. The adrenaline just kept me going.”

Kiski Area (3-3), which ended the game on an 8-0 run, trailed the entire way until Worthing and Johns calmly sucked the life out of the gym. Stunned, the limited fans went silent.

All the noise shifted to Kiski Area’s pile-up under the hoop.

“We preach with our kids to play with energy,” Kiski Area coach Nick Dizon said. “Even though we were struggling early on … the energy was there. We talked about keeping that energy and playing with that mentality that we’re just going to keep going. Eventually, a lot of times, things can turn out in your favor.”

The Golden Lions (0-1), who have dealt with 14- and 10-day layoffs because of covid-19 shutdowns, had not played a game since last February.

For as offensively productive as the Golden Lions were early, they went cold in the second half — a fountain was reduced to a drip as they only managed four points in the third quarter and three in the fourth.

They had three field goals in the second half.

“We ran out of gas,” Greensburg Salem coach Rick Klimchock said. “I think conditioning was a factor. We were turning it over and losing balls we shouldn’t have lost. You can’t score seven points in a half and expect to win.”

Greensburg Salem led 24-17 at the half.

Junior guard Abby Mankins, who had 14 points (the other four starters combined for that many) made a short jump shot with about five minutes remaining to put Greensburg Salem ahead 31-25. But the Golden Lions did not score again.

The Cavaliers came roaring back as another freshman, Cora Coleman, drilled back-to-back 3-pointers, the second fresh off a timeout, to tie it 31-31 with 3:41 to play.

Coleman had a team-high 13 points.

It remained deadlocked until the 41-second mark, when Greensburg Salem inbounded from in front of its bench and tried to play for the last shot.

Everyone in the building knew Mankins was the likely weapon of choice for the tiebreaker, but she never got a shot off. Her lob pass to her freshman sister, Kaitlyn, in the high post was picked off by Worthing with about 5 seconds to play.

“I don’t regret holding at the end,” Klimchock said. “I think it was the right call there. We maybe got tired, and Kiski made a great play. We didn’t want to give them a shot, but they ended up getting a big one.”

Johns, who ran wide into open floor after the turnover, barely beat the buzzer on the go-ahead layup.

“We stayed engaged on that last possession,” Dizon said. “Sam Worthing made a great steal on that ball, and Abby Johns made a great heads-up decision realizing the clock was almost up and hit a big shot for us.”

Timaia Lewis, a junior guard who normally starts, did not play for Greensburg Salem.

Johns and freshman Emma Peck each scored eight for Kiski Area.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at or via Twitter .

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