It's a proven formula for coach Chris George's Lady Cardinals. Seniors plus size equal success.
Last night the formula worked throughout the game as Pine Grove defeated Panther Valley, 58-44, to win its 1,000th game since Tremont combined with Pine Grove in 1966 to become Pine Grove Area High School.
The Lady Cardinals (9-2, 6-0), who start four seniors all over 5-7 in height, flexed their muscles right from the tip off as they raced to an 11-2 lead. Panther Valley didn't help its cause by shooting only 3-for-13 from the field to trail 17-7 at the end of the first quarter.
PV coach Josh Wank, though calling Pine Grove a good team, blamed the loss on his team's lack of effort.
"We didn't come to play tonight," he said. "We allowed too much penetration and we were trailing their screens. We were not fundamentally sound on defense."
Pine Grove's dominating offensive play continued with a 7-1 run to start the second quarter. Becky Evans tallied seven of her game high 22 points to lead the attack. The Lady Panthers were held to no baskets until Abby Whilden scored with 4:10 left in the half. Pine Grove's Steffi Sampson's layup with 10 seconds remaining increased her team's lead to 18 points at the break.
"We don't have wide bodies on the court, but we are long and fast and very athletic," said coach George. "We also have several good shooters and we were able to score off our defensive pressure. Yet I didn't think we were focused enough because of the importance of winning our school's 1000th game and the distraction from all our fans who came to see us play."
In the third quarter, Panther Valley battled Pine Grove evenly. Whilden scored on all four of her shots and Madison Blasko nailed two long threes as they combined to score all 14 points for their team in the quarter.
Wank was not overly concerned about balanced scoring even though Whilden and Blasko combined for 31 of Panther Valley's 44 total points.
"Our goal every night is to hold our opponent to 40 points or less and we obviously fell way short. We didn't defend. We make no excuses for a lack of discipline on defense. You can't get A results with a C+ effort."
The Lady Panthers (7-5,1-3), outscored Pine Grove in the fourth quarter on the strength of three treys, the last scored with 10 seconds left by Macey Markovich.
"We need to step up in these Schuylkill League games," said Wank. "We are resilient and I know our team will bounce back in our next game against Pottsville."
Evans 9-1-3-22, Sampson 3-6-6, Thompson 2-0-0-5, Zimmerman 5-3-3-13, Conrad 1-1-3-3, Bertasavage 2-2-3-6, Whitman 1-1-2-3, Edge 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 23-8-12-58.
Whilden 7-3-4-18, Blasko 5-0-0-13, Corby 1-1-2-3, Markovich 2-0-0-5, Zlock 2-1-2-5, Vance 0-0-0-0, Mickovich 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 17-5-9-44.
Pine Grove 17 16 11 14 58
Panther Valley 7 8 14 15 44
Three-pointers: PGA - Thompson 1, Evans 3; PV - Whiden 1, Blasko 3, Markovich 1.