No. 2 Peters Township girls stay perfect with victory over No. 3 Bethel Park
The No. 2 Peters Township girls basketball team got out to a fast start and held on late to keep their perfect season alive at home in a matchup against No. 3 Bethel Park.
The Indians (17-0, 11-0) swept the season series after defeating the Black Hawks, 61-46, in Section 2-6A action Monday.
Earlier in the season, Peters Township beat Bethel Park, 68-60, in overtime.
In the latest matchup, senior Makenna Marisa guided the Indians to an 18-4 lead with 12 of her game-high 26 points in the first quarter.
After getting into foul trouble, Marisa only scored two points in the second and third quarters before finishing the game with 12 points in the final quarter.
“Our gameplan was to play good defense. We wanted to beat them at their half-court game and rebound,” Peters Township coach Bert Kendall said.
“We know offensively we can do lots of things. Makenna will make things happen and find the open player. We wanted to focus on our half-court defense and to not allow uncontested threes.”
Senior Isabella Mills and freshman Journey Thompson each netted 12 points in the win.
After being down 31-18 at the half, Bethel Park got back into the contest as senior Maria Cerro scored nine of her team-high 20 points in the third quarter to cut the Indians lead to 40-33.
The Black Hawks (15-2, 9-2) continued to chip away and got it within three off a Cerro bucket with over six minutes remaining.
“That’s two rivals going at it. You aren’t going to build a lead and hold it. They were going to come back, and they did. They did it with their defense,” Kendall said.
“They really got us out of sync there for five minutes. You’re always going to have a pretty tight one when these two teams play. It’s rarely a blowout.”
However, Marisa took the game over and scored eight of the next 14 points to give the Indians a 51-40 lead. They never looked back.
“You are just waiting for her to step up and make the big play and big buckets. I’ve watched her play for four years, so it was no surprise when it got close it was her time,” Bethel Park coach Jonna Burke said.
The Indians adjusted their gameplan when they decided against applying their full-court defense against Bethel Park.
Kendall was pleased with containing sophomore Olivia Westphal, who scored 13 points with only two 3-pointers. In the first matchup, Westphal hit seven 3-pointers and led all scorers with 34 points.
“In the first game when they pressed us, I think we scored a couple times easy off of it. We are fortunate to have some good ball-handling kids,” Burke said. “I think it’s hard to press us, so I think that was a smart decision on his part to defend us in the half court because we couldn’t get out and get anything easy.”
Peters Township will look to lock up the section title with a win at Hempfield on Thursday, and Bethel Park will look to get back in the win column when the Black Hawks travel to Connellsville on Thursday.
Andrew John is a freelance writer.