With Rylee Kalocay back, Upper St. Clair girls pull away from Moon

Tuesday, December 19, 2023 | 10:50 PM

Due to an illness, Upper St. Clair was without star guard Rylee Kalocay on Monday as the Panthers lost big to Norwin.

The junior returned and made visiting Moon sick with a big game as the Panthers handed the Tigers their first loss of the season, 64-44.

Kalocay hit five 3-pointers in the first half and finished with a game-high 29 points as USC pulled away from a tight game.

“She’s a special player. When it matters, she takes over,” Upper St. Clair coach Pete Serio said. “She was hot and she took advantage of it. I don’t think she overshot or took any bad shots. She played a really good game. When she’s a little hot, it’s a good night for us.”

While Kalocay, who scored her 1,000th career point last week, led the way on the scoresheet for USC, Serio felt this bounce-back performance was a total team effort.

“I thought our team passed the ball really well,” he said. “Everybody was involved in finding the open player. Moon is a much improved team. They have some really nice players over there.”

The Tigers came into the game with a perfect 4-0 record with three close wins and one blowout victory.

Moon came out early and dominated the time of possession with several second and third opportunities on multiple possessions and trailed by three after the opening quarter.

The Panthers’ outside shooting took its toll in the second quarter as USC built a double-digit lead. Even when Moon sliced into the lead, Upper St. Clair quickly built it back up.

Kalocay had 19 points by halftime as USC took a lead into the break.

“Rylee being back on the floor makes a difference because others teams’ defenses focus on her, which gives everyone else on the team opportunities because it opens up driving lanes,” Serio said. “Even if Rylee doesn’t score 20 or 25 or 30 points, her being there opens things up.”

There was concern in the second half when the team’s top rebounder, 5-foot-5 sophomore point guard Ryan Prunzik, left the game after falling hard to the floor and injuring her tailbone. Despite the early exit, she led USC with seven rebounds.

“This is her first year of playing point guard,” Serio said. “She never played there in travel ball or AAU. I think she’s the perfect point guard. She’s always looking to distribute and she’s very unselfish. Her defense is off the charts. She frustrates opposing players, her hands are so quick, and she’s tenacious.”

Sophomore guard Jaedin Griggs led Moon with 14 points.

The victory improves Upper St. Clair to 5-3 overall with the three losses coming to district powers North Catholic, South Fayette and Norwin.

“It’s nice to be home,” Serio said. “We’ve been road warriors pretty much the entire season, playing a really tough schedule. What I was hoping to accomplish in these first eight games is we’re learning and getting experience. Outside of Rylee, we don’t have a lot of varsity experience. I care what our record is, but I’m not focused on that. I’m worried about January and February.”

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