Unbeaten Southmoreland gets ‘after it’ on defense, rolls past Elizabeth Forward

Monday, January 6, 2020 | 9:35 PM

Unbeaten Southmoreland continued its best start in school history, passing a stern road test in the process, by utilizing what has brought it this far: defensive wherewithal and offensive balance.

When the two intersect, this is one dangerous team.

Four players scored in double figures, and the stingy Scotties quickly put a close first quarter behind them to rout host Elizabeth Forward, 65-32, on Monday night in a Section 3-4A game.

Sophomore Gracie Spadaro scored a game-high 22 points, freshman point guard Olivia Cernuto added a career-high 20, sophomore guard Delaynie Morvosh scored 12 and senior forward Sarah Pisula had 11 points, 16 rebounds and eight blocks as the third-ranked Scotties moved to 11-0 overall and 5-0 in the section.

“We like to get after it, and we’re fast and have size,” Pisula said. “We applied ball pressure, and that helped us get to the line.”

In the second quarter, it sure did. The Scotties scored 34 points in the second and made 16 of 22 free throws to take a 48-20 lead into halftime.

It was the sixth game for Southmoreland without sophomore forward Bailey Kuhns, who left the team and appears to be transferring to Greensburg Central Catholic.

“Overall, this is a great team win for us,” Southmoreland coach Brian Pritts said. “I believe this is the first time Southmoreland has ever won at E-F. Our girls played tremendous tonight. We really attacked in the second quarter.”

The Scotties came into the night with the top defensive average in Class 4A at 29.6 points per game. The most points they allowed was 40 against McKeesport, and 38, twice — against Baldwin (42-38) and Greensburg Salem (53-38).

Elizabeth Forward (5-5, 3-2) looked like it might challenge that figure early as it took a 12-8 lead and only trailed 14-12 after the opening quarter. But Southmoreland methodically built the advantage to double digits with about five minutes left in the first half, challenging just about every shot the Warriors attempted. A 20-3 spurt pushed the advantage to 46-19.

Ellizabeth Forward’s Joselyn Dawson scored near the five-minute mark of the second quarter, but the Warriors didn’t make another field goal until the 2:13 mark of the third on a layup from Bailie Brinson.

In between, the Scotties took the ball to the rim and scored with high-percentage shots. Spadaro had 13 in the second quarter, including 9 of 10 free throws. Cernuto, who continues to show varsity-ready court awareness, had 12 in the first half.

Pisula scored nine in the second quarter for the Scotties, who did not make a 3-pointer.

Cernuto, who also had eight rebounds, scored out of the break to stretch it to 30 (50-20).

“The girls had energy tonight, and they enjoy playing defense,” Pritts said. “When Sarah gets her motor going, the girls follow.”

The win also served to get a bad taste of of their mouths. Last year, Elizabeth Forward held serve at home, defeating the Scotties, 45-44, after losing at Southmoreland earlier in the season, 46-40.

Southmoreland has scored 63 or more points six times this season after not accomplishing that feat last season.

The Scotties have also been piling up quality wins. They defeated Class 6A Baldwin and 3A Mercyhurst Prep in the Cal U tournament.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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