Soccer standout Sam Nemeth nets a different kind of game winner for GCC girls
Monday, January 13, 2020 | 9:07 PM
As a standout soccer player, Sam Nemeth has scored winning goals before for Greensburg Central Catholic.
She’s been known to show out in the clutch.
On Monday night, she got her kicks for the girls basketball team — with some more flair for the dramatic.
Nemeth, a senior forward, ran wide down the far sideline, took a pass from senior guard Gia Scala and calmly made a left-handed layup to beat the buzzer as No. 4 GCC edged No. 5 Clairton, 54-52, in a Section 3-A first-place clash in Carbon.
GCC (8-3, 5-0) trailed by 11 late in the third quarter and found itself behind 48-38 early in the fourth before rallying with a 17-6 fourth-quarter surge against the pressuring Bears (8-2, 4-1).
It was a slow crawl to a momentum shift, but GCC finished with a flurry to snap Clairton’s eight-game winning streak.
Scala, back after missing Saturday’s game with the flu, made two free throws with 22.8 seconds remaining to give GCC its first lead of the second half at 52-51.
Jerzee Sutton made 1 of 2 free throws for Clairton with 9.2 seconds left.
The Bears regained possession, but senior guard Teresa Kondas stole the ball and got it to Scala, who dribbled up the right side. With the defense collapsing, she zipped the ball to Nemeth, who finished.
“It was just like in practice,” Nemeth said. “I saw Gia going down the court and I thought for sure she was going to take it, but then she looked up at me. I was like, ‘Here we go.’ It was a finishing moment. You just have to calm down.
“It’s such a great feeling to celebrate with your team, the student section and everybody. We just kept fighting to the end and brought it back. It paid off in the end.”
Nemeth, an IUP commit for soccer, probably would not be on a multiple choice test for players GCC coach Sam Salih would expect to score a game-winning shot, but the coach isn’t about to get nitpicky. He was doubly thrilled to see Nemeth use her left hand to make the shot.
“Sam hasn’t played basketball until the eighth grade, but she has really helped us,” Salih said. “She was kind of an unsung hero. Last week, during our five-minute layup drill (in practice), she made one underhanded and all the girls went crazy.”
The home crowd went crazy this time as Nemeth softly bumped the ball off the square on the glass.
“I knew we had like nine seconds, so I have to get to the rim and get a foul,” Scala said. “Sammy came flying down the court, and it was my instinct to give it to her. It all worked out.”
GCC went on an 8-0 run to cut the deficit to 48-46. Sophomore Natalie Ward drove in for two and Teresa Kondas put back a miss.
“Teresa is such an unselfish player and she often passes up shots,” Salih said. “It was nice to see her attack for us. Our seniors stepped up.”
Taylor Jackson, who led Clairton with 13 points, scored to make it 50-46.
Scala made two free throws to cut it to 51-48, and Clairton was called for a travel. Kondas made a bank shot to make it 51-50 with 30 seconds left.
Clairton looked like it might run away and hide as it forced GCC into turnovers with its pressure. The Bears used an 11-1 spurt to go up 45-34 with 1:08 left in the third.
The Bears led 28-21 at the half.
“I think we had 15 or 20 turnovers in the first half,” Scala said. “We were getting frustrated in our heads, but we didn’t want to take it on the court. We stayed positive and kept working.”
GCC, though, stepped up its defense in the second half as it held the Bears to four fourth-quarter field goals.
Scala led GCC with 13 points and sophomore forward Laura Kondas added 11 . Teresa Kondas scored seven.
“We knew they’re a good team, and they were going to battle us,” Salih said. “They get after you. They’re a handsy team. But I felt we could pressure them too. Teams that pressure you don’t like to be pressured.”
Iyanna Chapman had 11 points and Kenaiah Ogletree chipped in 10 for Clairton.
Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .