Latrobe girls basketball team dominates Franklin Regional

Monday, February 1, 2021 | 9:42 PM

That Latrobe has twin towers in Anna Rafferty and Emma Blair is not a secret anymore.

The secret to stopping them, that’s another story.

Blair and Rafferty, who both average a double-double, piloted an impressive scoring run as first-place Latrobe pitched a shutout in the second quarter and cruised to its third straight victory, leveling ice-cold Franklin Regional, 50-18, on Monday night in Section 4-5A.

Led by Rafferty, a 6-foot-2 junior, and Blair, a 6-1 sophomore, the Wildcats owned the paint, cleaned the boards and were nearly flawless offensively.

Latrobe (6-1, 5-0) blanked the Panthers, 21-0, in the second quarter on senior night in Murrysville. The Wildcats used a 33-0 run to run away and hide, triggering the mercy rule late in the third quarter.

“That’s our offense, and we ran it well tonight,” Latrobe coach Mark Burkhardt said. “We know it’s tough for teams to match up with us. We ran things well tonight. Our big girls scored the first eight or 10 inside.”

It was the first game back from a covid-19 shutdown for Franklin Regional (0-4, 0-2), which scored 11 in the fourth with a flurry of 3-pointers.

The damage had long been done, though.

“We got good looks, we just couldn’t make anything,” Franklin Regional coach Anthony Kobus said. “Their size really bothered us, and we had some trouble with their zone. Our girls have been off for two weeks, so they’re just getting back in the gym. We had two starters playing who hadn’t played since December.”

Latrobe is emerging as one of the better teams in Class 5A. The Wildcats’ only loss is to Class 6A No. 2 Upper St. Clair, 50-36. Second-place McKeesport’s only loss is to Latrobe, 58-53.

Rafferty scored six in the opening quarter as the Wildcats took a 10-2 advantage, which they stretched to 26-5 in the second. Blair finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds, and Rafferty had 12 and eight — in a little more than two quarters.

Blair, who happens to be a good softball catcher despite her long frame, is averaging 11 points and 13.5 rebounds. Rafferty has some Division I college programs looking at her and has been going for 10.5 and 11.

Senior Maria Brush led the Panthers with five points Monday.

Franklin Regional, which sat 10 days in a covid-19 quarantine, returned to practice Jan. 26. It had not played a game since Jan. 16.

“It’s tough for them, for sure,” Burkhardt said of the Panthers. “We’ve been able to practice and play since the beginning. When you lose that rhythm, that can be a big thing in high school sports.”

The Panthers welcomed back two key players who had not played this season in sophomore Alexa Patberg and senior forward Kathryn Nardo.

The Panthers had only played three games, but one was against Latrobe. The Wildcats won the first meeting 51-38 but were missing some players. Still, the Panthers led that game by four points at halftime.

Sophomore Sophia Yaniga did not play Monday night.

One key guard from last season, Sydney Lindeman, decided not play basketball so she could focus on soccer.

Freshman Ellie Snyder, who had a 22-point game earlier in the season, scored seven for Latrobe, which is allowing 36 points a game. A third 6-footer, sophomore Camille Dominick, had five.

The Wildcats had just beaten Kiski Area, 48-16.

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

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