Penn-Trafford girls roll over Hempfield

Thursday, December 7, 2023 | 10:37 PM

Baseline to baseline, Penn-Trafford found a winning mix.

Hassling team defense created mistakes and sound movement on the offensive end produced assists as the girls basketball team rolled past Hempfield, 66-41, in their nonsection home opener Thursday night.

“A lot of people were creating for us tonight,” said Penn-Trafford sophomore guard Torrie Destefano, the game’s high scorer with 20 points for the Warriors (2-1), who bounced back from their first loss with a big second half. “We worked on our shooting and saw what we needed to do after the Norwin game. We shot the ball a lot better.”

Senior guard Elle Visco chipped in a career-high 14 points, and senior guard Olivia Pepple added 11 as eight players scored for Penn-Trafford.

Hempfield (2-1), which won both games at the season-opening Laurel Highlands Tournament, never led against the Warriors, who took the momentum from a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Visco into halftime with a 32-16 lead.

“Defensively, we were a lot better in the second quarter, especially our transition defense,” Warriors coach John Giannikas said. “We have a lot of contributors tonight, and that was nice to see. We’re a deeper team this year.”

A 14-4 second quarter allowed the Warriors to take command. After senior Ashley Hosni put back a miss for Hempfield, they reeled off 10 straight points to take a 16-point lead into the break.

The advantage reached 20 in the third and didn’t dip below that total in the fourth as the Warriors rolled up 34 second-half points.

“A bunch of little things hurt us,” Hempfield coach Bob Madison said. “We played hard. I loved our effort. Penn-Trafford is a good team. When you make mistakes against a team like that, they make you pay.”

Destefano scored eight in the third, including a 3, and her pull-up jumper gave the Warriors a 46-28 lead going to the final quarter.

“We knew our offense would keep going,” Destefano said.

Also in the third, Pepple made the play of the night when she delivered a behind-the-back pass to Visco.

“That’s her signature move,” Destefano said. “She does that all the time.”

Madison was pleased the Spartans limited Pepple’s scoring. Pepple is a Gannon commit.

“If you told before the game we’d hold her to 13, I’d take it,” Madison said. “Some other girls stepped up for them.”

Conversely, Penn-Trafford held senior guard Sarah Podkul to five points.

“She’s a really good player,” Giannikas said. “We always knew where she was at.”

Hempfield had plenty of chances early and rebounded well. It got within 18-12 after one quarter but could not finish around the rim.

Hosni, who dealt with early foul trouble, led Hempfield with 14 points. Sophomore Gabriella Coccia had 12.

Penn-Trafford got 13 points off the bench, with freshman Isabella Fontana scoring all seven of her points in the fourth. Sophomore Hannah Weishaar added six points.

Junior Mia Shipman played her first game of the season for Hempfield after sitting out with an ankle injury.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at

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