Latrobe tightens up on defense, shuts down Greensburg Salem

Friday, January 28, 2022 | 10:47 PM

Latrobe’s girls basketball team played its third consecutive game without leading scorer Anna Rafferty on Friday, and the Wildcats didn’t miss a beat.

Junior Emma Blair scored a game-high 18 points and had 15 rebounds to lead first-place Latrobe (13-2, 8-0) to a 47-20 victory against Greensburg Salem in Section 4-5A action.

A switch in defense and the Wildcats’ height were too much for Greensburg Salem (14-4, 5-3) to handle.

The 6-foot-1 Blair and the 6-foot Camille Dominick clogged up the passing lanes, and then Latrobe coach Mark Burkardt decided in the second quarter to switch from a man-to-man defense to a 1-2-2 zone.

“With Anna sidelined, I felt we’ve played well defensively and have rebounded,” Burkardt said. “(Abby) Mankins was getting to the basket on us in the first quarter and we had to slow her down.”

Latrobe did more than that. Mankins finished with a team-high seven points, all in the first quarter.

Latrobe led 17-10 after a quarter and only allowed 10 more points over the final three quarters.

“Emma played well and Josie (Straigis) added a spark,” Burkardt said. “She’s played well the past three games.”

Elle Snyder chipped in with 12 points for the Wildcats and Straigis added seven.

Greensburg Salem also played without a key starter — freshman center Kate Mankins. She’s missed the past seven makes with a season-ending knee injury.

“Since Kate went down, this group has grinded out five of six wins, which has put us in a position to make the playoffs,” Greensburg Salem coach Rick Klimchock said. “Latrobe played very well, and we didn’t handle their zone and their height.

“We played well early, but when they went to the zone, we struggled. We were coming off an emotional win Thursday (38-35 over Gateway), and we knew it would be a struggle against them. They’re one of the top teams in Class 5A.”

Klimchock believes that Kate Mankins is one of the best post players in the section.

About the only thing the Wildcats didn’t do well was take care of the ball. They finished with 21 turnovers.

“A lot of those were aggressive turnovers, and I’m OK with that,” Burkardt said. “Hopefully we get Anna back soon. We have a big game at home against McKeesport coming up this week.”

Latrobe visits Franklin Regional on Tuesday and plays host to McKeesport on Friday.

Greensburg Salem tries to rebound Thursday at Woodland Hills.

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

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