Kiski Area girls rally past Burrell to go 1-0

Friday, January 8, 2021 | 9:38 PM

A 12-point third-quarter advantage helped the Kiski Area girls basketball team turn a slim halftime deficit into a season-opening 39-26 victory Friday at Burrell.

The Cavaliers trailed by one at the break, but they used defensive pressure, coupled with offensive struggles by the Bucs, to lead by 11 at the end of three.

“We talk a lot about going 1-0 every day, both in practice and in games,” Kiski Area coach Nick Dizon said.

“I like how we fought back after kind of a rough start. They came out and hit some shots. (Burrell freshman) Kate Myers had a really big start to the game, and it was kind of tough at first. But our kids battled back and buckled down defensively. Our effort on the defensive end kind of led us to some good plays on the offensive side.”

Kiski Area and Burrell originally were scheduled to open their seasons with home games Dec. 11-12 as part of the Burrell Tip-Off, but the games were canceled after Gov. Tom Wolf issued shutdown orders for all high school winter athletic programs as part of overall mitigation efforts to slow the covid-19 spread.

The teams resumed practices Monday in preparation for Friday’s game.

“Getting to play this game was very enjoyable,” said senior Sam Worthing, who hit a pair of 3-pointers in the second quarter and finished with six points. “We’re back at it, and it feels great to get this win. There’s always improvement to be done, but it’s only the first game.”

For the Cavaliers, freshman guard/forward Abbie Johns paced the attack with 17 points. She tallied 13 of her 17, hitting four 3-pointers, over the second and third quarters as Kiski Area rallied.

“Abbie didn’t play like a freshman tonight,” Dizon said. “She missed a couple of shots early, but she stuck with it and buckled down on the defensive side, too. As the game went on, she started to get more comfortable on both sides of the ball and made a huge impact for us.”

Myers, who finished with a team-best 17 points in her varsity debut, scored Burrell’s first eight points, and the Bucs led 11-3 with 3:08 left in the opening frame and 14-7 heading to the second quarter. She added a pair of 3-pointers in the second to keep Burrell ahead, 20-13.

But the Cavaliers started their comeback as Johns and Worthing connected on back-to-back shots from long range in the closing minutes of the half to close the gap to one.

The teams combined for 10 3-pointers in the first half – six from Burrell and four from Kiski Area – to account for 30 of the game’s 39 points over the first 16 minutes.

“We had just eight points in the second half,” Burrell coach Joel Ceraso said. “We had almost all of our points scored by just two kids. We need others to step up.

“I thought we played pretty well in the first half. To hold a team to 19 points in the first half and 39 for the game is a pretty good effort. The bottom line is we only scored 26, and that isn’t going to get it done.”

Burrell’s leading scorer from last year, junior Allison Fisher, was held off the scoreboard. She landed in foul trouble and fouled out with 3:51 left in the fourth quarter.

Junior Riley Hanan added six points for Kiski Area, and Riley Sterlitz tallied six points for Burrell.

Kiski Area returns to action Monday at home against Indiana for the start of Section 2-5A play.

Burrell has a quick turnaround as it will host District 6’s West Shamokin on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. The Bucs visit Saltsburg on Monday before starting Section 1-4A play at Derry on Thursday.

“Tomorrow’s going to be a big test,” Ceraso said. “We know West Shamokin is going to come at us with aggressive defense. These early games are going to be good for us. We just have to continue to push forward and work to get better, and we will.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at or via Twitter .

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