Up-and-down season provides ‘learning experiences’ for Gateway girls

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Sunday, March 7, 2021 | 9:01 AM


The Gateway girls basketball team hoped for good things from their WPIAL Class 5A preliminary-round game March 1 at Mars.

Despite a spirited effort, which included a rally from a double-digit deficit, the Planets pulled away for a 47-33 victory that ended the Gators’ season at 7-11.

“We started off really slow. We just couldn’t put the ball in the hoop,” Gateway coach Curtis Williams said.

“We were too sloppy at the beginning. Being the young group that we were, I think there were some nerves. But we did a nice job of regrouping and coming back.”

Gateway trailed Mars, 33-28, at the end of the third and reduced the Planets’ lead to one early in the fourth quarter.

But Mars went 9 of 11 from the foul line in the final quarter to help seal the win.

“We kept fouling to try to stop the clock and hope they would miss from the line,” Williams said.

Mars finished the game 14 of 19 overall from the line. The Planets got 30 of their 47 points from 5-foot-11 junior forwards Ava Black (18) and Kaitlyn Pelaia (12).

Williams said he hoped his team would’ve been a little more balanced on the scoring sheet. Senior Dynasty Shegog was the lone player in double figures with 15 points.

Sophomores Marina Grado and Amiya White added six points apiece.

Gateway started the season without a win over its first six games. The Gators did give Latrobe a run for its money in a Jan. 15 section matchup before falling 51-47. The Wildcats, who finished 9-1 in section play, were 12-2 overall heading into a Class 5A first-round game against South Fayette last Thursday.

A win over Greensburg Salem on Jan. 28 got the ball rolling for the Gators, who went 7-4 down the stretch in the regular season.

“I could see this young team grow and develop throughout the season as many of them got comfortable with new roles and some increased their leadership positions,” Williams said.

“Despite the 7-11 record, a lot of the games were close. Of our 11 losses, we had leads in probably nine of them. But we just couldn’t hold on and finish off those games. Those are learning experiences for the kids.”

Gateway loses just Shegog from the varsity rotation as Williams hopes to add to the returning depth leading into next year.

Shegog, a Cal (Pa.) commit, led the team in scoring (13.8 ppg) and rebounds (9.6) through 18 games.

“Dynasty has meant a lot to the program,” Williams said.

“She brought energy and a high motor from her freshman year. She really came on this year as a primary scorer. She knew she was going to be a main focus of everyone’s defensive gameplan, drawing double and triple teams. But she still found ways to put up points each game. Her determination and work ethic were big for us.”

Williams said he always appreciated the energy and dedication of fellow seniors Sara D’Andries and Pauline White.

Williams said he is optimistic his returning players will be able to take advantage of a full offseason and then a full preseason of work before the start of games in the 2021-22 season.

“I think we can make some really good gains in chemistry and continuity,” he said. “As we try to get back to a normal format, it will be important for us to get in the gym and do the things that will help us grow.”

Junior Lexi Margolis scored 9.9 points per game and 2.6 assists a contest, while Grado averaged 7.5 points and 3.6 steals.

Williams said he is looking forward to the continued improvement of starters and rotation members in White, juniors Grace Weiskircher and Kira Pavlik, sophomore Jayla Oliver, and freshman Becca Ryan.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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