Lady Trojans set for PIAA playoffs
Does lightning strike twice in the same place?
California girls’ basketball coach Chris Minerd is hoping it will when his Lady Trojans travel to Slippery Rock Saturday to meet District 10 champion Kennedy Catholic (21-2) in a PIAA Class A first round playoff game.
Tip-off is set for 4 p.m.
The reason Minerd is hoping for a second strike is because he sees a lot of similarities between Kennedy and the Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic team that California defeated in the WPIAL quarterfinals.
“Kennedy is the district champion, but they are a young team like North Catholic had,” Minerd said. “Even though they did win their district, the word I get is that they are somewhat rebuilding, like North Catholic was.
“And they have a big girl inside like North Catholic did. I saw them on tape and they remind me a lot of North Catholic. If we do the things we’ve done most of the season, I think we have a shot to win. I really do.”
The “big girl” Minerd spoke of for KC is 6-3 sophomore April Bocian, who averages 10.9 points per game. Although she is not the Golden Eagles’ leading scorer, she had a double-double of 18 points and 10 rebounds in KC’s 49-38 win over Cochranton in the district title game.
KC’s leading scorer is 5-5 senior guard Taylor Hood (12.3 ppg). Rounding out the lineup for the Golden Eagles are 5-9 junior Tatum Kress (10), 5-5 junior Rebekah Kish (9.3) and 5-4 sophomore Taylor Zacherl (5.6).
Kennedy has won four straight district crowns and 10 in the last 14 years.
The Golden Eagles, who have won 14 consecutive games, are ranked fourth in the state in Class A.
Minerd said the key for his team is to get back to playing the way the Lady Trojans did until the second half of their 60-40 WPIAL semifinal loss to Serra.
“We have to play defense the whole 32 minutes, not just two quarters,” he said. “And we certainly need to get more scoring. We have to get three players in double figures and not depend on Kylie for the bulk of our offense.”
California’s 6-1 freshman Kylie Huffman was the lone Lady Trojan to crack double figures with 14 points in the loss to Serra.
One other area where Minerd said his team has to improve is taking care of the basketball.
“We have to do a better job of keeping down our turnovers,” he said. “We had 54 turnovers in the last two games, including 29 against Serra. You aren’t going to win many games any time of the year doing that, let alone in the playoffs.”
Minerd said that even though his team, like KC, is young, the Lady Trojans are in a good frame of mind for the state playoffs.
“It is tough when you have an extended time off like we have had since our last game. But we had a couple good practices and the girls are excited to play,” he said. “This is a big opportunity for us and we will be ready to play Saturday.”
Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or email@example.com.