The Southmoreland girls basketball team played Thursday’s Section 3-AAA game without starter Anna Coffman, who was out with the flu. Fortunately for the Lady Scotties, freshman Nicole Pizzola was ready to step into the lineup and help Southmoreland post a 70-39 victory over Belle Vernon (2-19, 1-11).
Pizzola tallied 11 points in the win, and of course, it didn’t hurt that the Lady Scotties (19-2, 10-2) also had Vanessa Abel, who led all scorers with 37 points.
“I’m proud of them tonight,” Southmoreland coach Brian Pritts said. “We stepped up. We played without a starter, and I think Nicole Pizzola stepped up and did a very nice job.”
Pritts said Pizzola made some mistakes, but she also made some good plays. Pizzola started off her night with a four-point first quarter, but the game was all about Abel in the early minutes, as she sank 12 first-period points and helped the Lady Scotties grab a 21-6 lead.
Pritts said Southmoreland’s tough defensive effort was one of the keys he’d stressed to his team.
“We tried to pick up the intensity a little bit on defense to try and keep in the game and keep our minds sharp,” he said. “When you’re going up against a team that’s struggling, it’s very easy to sit back on your heels, and I didn’t want that to happen tonight.”
The comfortable lead which that stifling defense helped the Lady Scotties attain came in handy in the second quarter, as the Lady Leopards kept pace. Danielle Rohland and Kayla Watson each put in four points, but with Abel tacking seven onto her tally, Southmoreland went into the break still leading, 36-21.
Emily Scapes, who finished with 10 points, hit a 3-pointer in the third quarter for Belle Vernon, but Abel once again dominated the period. With one quarter left to play, the Lady Scotties had extended their lead to 55-31.
Pizzola turned in another strong effort in the fourth quarter, and though Kayla Nuccetelli netted six of her team-high 12 points, Abel and Southmoreland had the win well in hand.
Pritts was able to get all of his bench players some varsity time, and he said after winning the junior varsity game by more than 20 points, they earned it.
“They deserved it after how well they played in the JV game tonight,” he said. “They’re making major strides for us, and that’s only going to make us stronger in the long run.”
Southmoreland will visit Yough on Monday.