Trib HSSN Girls Basketball Team of the Week: March 20, 2022
Sunday, March 20, 2022 | 9:55 PM
Before this season, the PIAA playoffs started a week after the district championships were played.
This year, officials decided to move the start of the PIAA playoffs to the Tuesday and Wednesday after the district finals and give a week off between the semifinals and the finals.
With the week off here, count Neshannock girls basketball coach Luann Grybowski among those who like the new format.
“Although it is always tough to play that first game after the WPIAL, I prefer to play quickly and keep kids on a schedule,” Grybowski said. “We now have a full week to scout for the state title.”
The Lancers are in position to scout for a second straight year thanks to win last week in the PIAA Class 2A quarterfinals and semifinals.
The Lancers defeated the Wildcats by a combined 85 points in the three previous matchups, including an 18-point win in the WPIAL quarterfinals.
“Our preparation was very similar,” Grybowski said. “Teams do not change much and it’s very difficult to play a section opponent three times, let alone four. My kids were extra focused and had a great start to that game. Shenango defended us very well the third time, so we had to make some adjustments.”
Great start indeed as the Lancers raced out to a 19-0 lead after one quarter. By halftime, Neshannock led 35-5 on their way to a convincing, 51-17 victory.
Through three wins in the PIAA postseason, the Lancers were allowing an average of just under 22 points per game.
“My focus has been defense for 42 years, and that won’t change now,” Grybowski said. “These kids read and react to each other so well and that is why our defense has stepped up a notch, plus the fact that experience and maturity plays a part also.”
In the semifinals, Neshannock faced Bellwood-Antis out of District 6.
“Bellwood has a good program and are a very good and well-coached team,” Grybowski said. “We knew it would be a dogfight. They have four kids who can shoot it as well as attack the hoop. Our defensive pressure caused 20 turnovers and we only had six, which was a key. We were able to attack and get layups late and make free throws.”
The Lancers had a trio of players lead the way against the Blue Devils with senior Addi Watts and juniors Marian Haggerty and Meghan Pallerino each scoring 14 points.
It is that kind of balance all year that has made Neshannock successful on offense.
“The beauty of this team is anyone of the top seven can score double digits,” Grybowski said. “It is always three or four different kids every night. Although (Haggerty) is our top scorer, she has not been our leading scorer every game.
“It’s a little easier to stop one than it is to stop all seven.”
Last year, Neshannock reached the state title game but lost to District 4 champion Mt. Carmel, 54-43.
Now the Lancers face another D-4 champion in Hershey on Friday when they take on Southern Columbia.
“Southern Columbia has size as well as shooters,” Grybowski said. “We are going to have to play the best defensive game. Play our game, use our speed to our advantage, rebound and run the floor.”
2022 Trib HSSN Girls Basketball Teams of the Week
Week 11 – Freedom Bulldogs
Week 10 – Bishop Canevin Crusaders
Week 9 – Mohawk Warriors
Week 8 – Mars Fightin’ Planets
Week 7 – Albert Gallatin Colonials
Week 6 – Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Chargers
Week 5 – Waynesburg Central Raiders
Week 4 – Montour Spartans
Week 3 – Trinity Hillers
Week 2 – Union Scotties
Week 1 – Blackhawk Cougars
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