Monessen holds Aquinas Academy scoreless in 1st quarter but loses

Tuesday, February 18, 2020 | 9:51 PM

After a dominating start, the Monessen girls basketball team saw its opening-round game of the WPIAL Class A playoffs slip away Tuesday in a 34-30 defeat by Aquinas Academy at Peters Township.

“I’m shocked, myself,” Monessen coach Janine Vertacnik said. “In 33 years of coaching, I’ve never been involved in a game like this one.”

The Greyhounds didn’t allow a point in the first quarter, taking a 13-0 lead. Sophomore Kendelle Weston scored seven points in the first to lead Monessen.

Aquinas Academy did not make a field goal until 1 minute, 17 seconds remained in the half. Weston, who scored 10 points in the first half, ended the second quarter with a basket that put the Greyhounds up, 17-3.

In the third quarter, Aquinas scored the first five points and put Monessen on its heels. The Crusaders went on a 12-0 run to tie the score on a Laura Richthammer 3-pointer with 3:05 left in the third.

Aquinas took its first lead a little more than a minute later on a field goal by Emilia Kartsonas, a 6-foot sophomore who dominated the second half.

“They upped their pressure on us. We had girls open. We just didn’t find them,” Vertacnik said. “There were girls open under the basket, and we just didn’t get us there.”

Aquinas Academy closed the game on a 6-1 run.

“We held them to three points at halftime, and we lost the game,” Vertacnik said. “I have to go home, scratch my head, watch the film and figure out this one.”

Aquinas played at a faster pace in the second half, throwing the Greyhounds off their game.

“We seem to play a little more relaxed when we’re up. When we get in tight games — this team has never been in this situation — we just got tight,” Vertacnik said.

The Greyhounds had opportunities but didn’t convert, even from the free-throw line, where Monessen was 9 of 20.

“When you get in the playoffs, you can’t afford to miss like that,” Vertacnik said.

Aquinas Academy (10-11) will face top-seeded Rochester. Monessen finishes at 15-8.

Listen to an archived broadcast of this game on Trib HSSN.

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