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O’Donnell powers Penn-Trafford past McKeesport |
High School Basketball

O’Donnell powers Penn-Trafford past McKeesport

Bill Beckner Jr.

Stephanie O’Donnell still wears a mask to protect her face after she suffered a broken nose last season.

The 6-foot-1 senior forward from Penn-Trafford doesn’t necessarily need the protective wrap, but it has become part of her uniform.

“It’s more of a mental thing,” O’Donnell said. “I feel tougher when I wear it. It toughens me up.”

O’Donnell scored a game-high 15 points and pulled down 10 rebounds Friday afternoon to lead the Warriors to their fourth straight victory — 65-45 over McKeesport at the Penn-Trafford holiday tournament.

The Warriors (5-3) went 2-0 in the round-robin event and scored 65 or more points for the fourth consecutive game.

“We’re getting more comfortable playing together, and everyone is showing what they can do,” O’Donnell said. “We are sharing the ball and getting everyone some points. We knew we’d have to be tough and physical (against McKeesport), and we played solid defense.”

Senior guard Raeghan Panza made a trio of 3-pointers and finished with 13 points, and junior guard Bella Long scored 12, making 8 of 9 free throws.

With the defensive pressure turned up, Penn-Trafford forced McKeesport to force shots at times. The Tigers struggled to get into offensive sets after falling behind early.

“I have said it before: I like this team, the way they play together,” Warriors coach John Giannikas said. “They have bought into their roles. Since that has happened, we’ve had some success.”

The Warriors raced to a 21-5 lead after the first quarter, hitting several long-range shots and shooting better than 50 percent.

O’Donnell made a 3-pointer and converted a conventional 3-point play to key a 14-2 spurt.

Panza connected on a pair of first-half 3s, the second of which gave the Warriors a 30-11 lead midway through the second quarter.

McKeesport was led by freshman Nevaeh Stepanik, who scored a team-high 12. Junior Jhayla Bray added 11 points.

The Tigers could only file the lead down to 18 in the second half.

Penn-Trafford got sizable contributions on both ends of the floor from several players, including sophomores Mackenzie Powell and Allie Prady and freshman Maura Suman.

“A lot of our younger girls saw a lot of playing time last year, and it is starting to pay off,” Giannikas said. “They’re used to the speed of the game now. We have been shooting the ball pretty well the last couple games, and it has given our girls confidence.”

Bill Beckner is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bill at [email protected] or via Twitter @BillBeckner.

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