Westmoreland County girls basketball notebook: Teams keeping playoff hopes alive

Wednesday, February 7, 2024 | 11:01 AM

Three Westmoreland County girls basketball teams — Franklin Regional, Latrobe and Yough — are on the playoff bubble heading into the final night of section play.

The top four teams and ties for fourth place in each section make the playoffs.

Franklin Regional (7-14, 6-6) has done all it can in Section 3-5A, but the Panthers will need some help to get into the postseason as they sit alone in fifth place.

Penn Hills (9-10, 6-5) and Woodland Hills (8-10, 6-5) are tied for fourth, so Franklin Regional needs one of them to lose. On Friday night, Penn Hills plays at Kiski Area (6-14, 2-9), and Woodland Hills visits Gateway (2-17, 0-11).

Latrobe (10-11, 5-6) and Thomas Jefferson (8-12, 5-6) are tied for fourth in Section 3-5A. Latrobe needs to beat Penn-Trafford (13-7, 6-5) on Thursday or have Thomas Jefferson lose to Connellsville (4-14, 0-10) to qualify.

And in Section 4-3A, Yough (9-11, 2-7) is in fifth place, but a 27-26 victory over fourth-place McGuffey (13-7, 3-6) on Monday gave the Cougars new life. They need to upset South Park (14-6, 8-1) on Thursday and have McGuffey lose to Charleroi (9-11, 1-8) to clinch a berth.

County teams that have clinched playoff spots are Norwin in 6A, Penn-Trafford in 5A, Greensburg Salem and Belle Vernon in 4A, Burrell and Mt. Pleasant in 3A, Greensburg Central Catholic in 2A and Monessen and Jeannette in A.

Big win

So, how did Yough manage to get past McGuffey, and in such low-scoring fashion?

Let’s just say it wasn’t the prettiest game of the night.

“We are very thankful the PIAA hasn’t implemented the shot clock yet,” Cougars coach Brian Znavor said in jest, describing his team’s 27-26 win Monday.

“It would have been easy for the girls to pack it in because they beat us by 20-plus last time, but they didn’t. They played hard.”

Znavor said the Cougars have been focusing on improving against zone pressure.

McGuffey played a box-and-one defense on senior point guard Autumn Matthews.

Yough had to be patient almost to the point of nausea, in a snapshot of self-awareness and execution with its season on the line.

“We tried to be patient and at times held the ball to try and make them come out of it,” Znavor said. “It was a grind, but it is what we have to do and the girls have bought into it.”

So, will Yough employ the same plan Thursday against No. 5 South Park?

“We will do the same thing the next two days (at practice),” Znavor said. “We will work on fundamentals for 45 minutes and rep South Park’s stuff. They are a good team, and for us to be get a win, we are going to have to play as well as we can.”

Finishing touch

Norwin will look to put a bow on a perfect section season when it hosts Seneca Valley on Thursday night.

The Knights (17-3, 9-0 Section 1), ranked No. 2 in 6A, have not won an outright title since 2017-18 and have not finished undefeated in section play since 2015-16 (12-0).

Norwin held off Seneca Valley (12-8, 4-5) in the teams’ first matchup, 46-35.

Doubling up

Penn-Trafford 5-foot-11 junior forward Lauren Marton has been collecting double-doubles by the handful, like game personnel taking candy from team scorekeeper Don Konsol’s gameday bag of sweets.

Martin has seven double-doubles for the season: 195 points and 163 rebounds in 20 games (10.3 ppg, 8.6 rpg).

She had 19 points and 14 boards against Kiski Area, 14 and 13 against Albert Gallatin, 20 and 11 when the Warriors played Thomas Jefferson and 10 and 15 in a win over Montour.

Jeannette returns

Jeannette finally reassembled its six-girl lineup to return from a 13-day layoff from game action.

Starters Venicia Vignoli and Adriana Allison returned after they suffered injuries in a vehicle accident to help Jeannette to a 46-24 win Monday over Hillel Academy.

With the time away and postponements, Jeannette (7-7, 2-3) has to play four section games in five days this week to get the required eight section games completed.

Jeannette already has clinched a playoff spot in Class A.

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

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