(Statistical Information Courtesy of Erie Times-News)
DISTRICT 10 BASKETBALL PLAYOFFS -- FINALS
Six area girls basketball teams remain alive in District 10 playoff action. Four games highlight Saturday's schedule. The Class 1A and 2A title games feature all-Mercer County matchups while in Class 5A, Slippery Rock guns for the D-10 title. Hickory can also advance to the state playoffs by winning the Class 5A consolation game Saturday afternoon over Warren.
CLASS 1A GIRLS CHAMPIONSHIP
Kennedy Catholic vs. Farrell, 1:00 p.m., Slippery Rock University
One of District 10's top girls basketball rivalries will be renewed Saturday afternoon when Kennedy and Farrell meet for the district title at Morrow Field House. It's the second straight year that the teams have met for the 1A title. Kennedy has won seven straight District 10 titles, defeating either Farrell or Cochranton in the title game in each of those wins. Farrell pursues its first D-10 crown since 2010.
With Jamestown and Commodore Perry opting out of the playoffs, both teams have had a considerable layoff. Kennedy last played February 12, when the Golden Eagles earned a 54-41 win at Farrell. Farrell's last game came February 16 at Class 6A power Erie, a 61-35 setback.
Kennedy (17-5) enters the title game having won 11 of its last 12 games. Kennedy's setbacks this year came to District 10 Class 2A finalist West Middlesex, District 7 Class 6A finalist North Allegheny, D-7 6A playoff qualifier Pine-Richland, District 7 3A semifinalist Mohawk and District 7 Class 4A champion Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic.
Sophomore guard Malia Magestro leads Kennedy and District 10 in scoring, averaging 20.8 points per game. She leads the team with 37 three-pointers. Senior forward Sophia Berardi (28 threes) adds 9.6 points per game while classmate Caitlyn Figuly averages 8.8 points per game in first year as a full-time starter up front.
Senior sharpshooter Makayla Utlak (25 three-point goals) averages 4.3 points per game. Junior Sydney McKnight (6.7) returned to the fold after missing the first month of the season due to injury. Freshman guard Olivia Schuller (6.0), senior center Allie Suhar (1.9) and junior guard Leah Lombardi (1.2) help round out the rotation for first-year head coach Justin Magestro.
Farrell features three double-digit scorers on the season in senior guard Marissa Hopson (16.8), sophomore forward Kyra Crosby (13.1) and senior guard Mar'Nae Oatis (11.1). The left-handed Hopson leads Farrell with 48 three-pointers. She plans to continue her basketball career at Slippery Rock University.
Senior forward Jasmyn Russell (5.8) and senior guards Malaysia Gregory (3.5) and Rukaiah Pierce (2.5) are also in the Farrell rotation, as is freshman Mariah Hopson (2.7).
Berardi led Kennedy with 15 points in the regular season finale at Farrell. Magestro added 14 points while Schuller rifled in 12. Marissa Hopson led Farrell with 13 points and Crosby added 10.
Kennedy (13-1 Region 1) also won the first meeting, 77-63, January 18 in Hermitage. Berardi (27) and Magestro (25) combined for 52 points for Kennedy. Hopson (17), Crosby (15) and Oatis (15) all reached double digits for Farrell, which finished 9-5 in Region 1 play.
Farrell has won 12 straight games when holding opponents to 50 points or less. Kennedy is 15-0 when scoring 50 or more.
The Farrell-Kennedy winner will play District 6's third-place team, Portage, in the opening round of the PIAA tournament. The D-10 runner-up meets District 7 runner-up West Greene in the PIAA tournament.
CLASS 2A GIRLS CHAMPIONSHIP
Reynolds vs. West Middlesex, 4:00 p.m., Slippery Rock University
For the second straight season, West Middlesex and Reynolds will meet for the District 10 Class 2A championship at Morrow Field House. West Middlesex aims for its third consecutive D-10 title while Reynolds aims for the program's first district crown in girls basketball.
Both teams reached the finals by rolling past Crawford County foes in the semifinals. Reynolds (14-9) put the squeeze on high-scoring Cambridge Springs by holding the Blue Devils to 39 points in a 47-39 victory Wednesday night in Meadville. Meanwhile, West Middlesex (20-4) blitzed Maplewood, 71-35. The Big Reds led 36-12 at halftime.
Defense has been Reynolds' calling card throughout the season. Eleven foes have been held to 25 points or less. The 39 points yielded to Cambridge Springs marked a season-low for Spa.
Offensively, junior Kelly Park exploded for a season-high 19 points against Cambridge Springs. Senior point guard Taylor D'Urso added 11 points, her third straight game in double figures. She had not scored in double digits until posting 11 points February 14 in the regular season finale against Sharpsville.
Senior forward Rachel Cowan leads Reynolds in scoring on the season, averaging 8.3 points per game. Senior guard Elke D'Urso leads Reynolds with 22 three-pointers and is second on the team at 7.2 points per game. Taylor D'Urso, Park (4.1) and senior Lily Svirbly (3.3) round out the starting five for first-year head coach Matt Blaschak. Sophomore Tess Cadman is Reynolds' top scorer off the bench at 6.7 points per game while senior forward Hattie Shrock adds 2.1 points per game.
The Raiders' defense will face its stiffest test of the postseason as West Middlesex has averaged 71.5 points over the last six games. Wednesday night against Maplewood, West Middlesex posted its eight 70-point effort of the season. Senior forward Mackenzie MacKay poured in 24 points for the Big Reds and sophomore center MaKennah White added 22 points.
White and senior guard Delaney Dogan have each eclipsed the 400-point mark this season. White leads West Middlesex in scoring, averaging 19.4 points per game. Dogan averages 17.4 while MacKay has raised her average to 12.1. Dogan and MacKay have both gone over the 1,000-point for their respective careers.
Sophomore guard Grace Mild leads the Big Reds with 27 three-pointers. Senior guard Lily Slater (20 three-pointers), junior forward Karsyn Rupert and sophomore guard Olivia Franks round out the West Middlesex rotation for head coach Mike Williams.
West Middlesex is 20-0 when holding teams to less than 50 points, 0-4 when allowing 50 or more points. The Big Reds are 10-1 in their last 11 District 10 playoff games.
West Middlesex swept the regular season meetings in Region 1 play this year. The Big Reds picked up a 63-22 win January 8 at Reynolds, then notched a 41-19 home win over Reynolds February 1. White led West Middlesex with 24 points in the first meeting while Cadman's 10 points paced Reynolds. White (16) and Dogan (13) both scored in double digits in the rematch. Cowan led Reynolds with eight points.
West Middlesex won last year's D-10 title matchup at SRU, 37-26. Dogan led West Middlesex with 16 points and MacKay added 13. Cowan led Reynolds with eight points.
Both teams advance to the state tournament. The District 10 champion will face District 7's No. 6 team, Leechburg. The D-10 runner-up will draw D-7's third-place squad, Serra Catholic.
CLASS 5A GIRLS CHAMPIONSHIP
Slippery Rock vs. Harbor Creek, 4:00 p.m., Meadville
The top two seeds in the Class 5A tournament meet Saturday afternoon in Meadville for the District 10 championship. Harbor Creek seeks its second D-10 title in a four-year span while Slippery Rock aims for its first district crown since 2010.
Slippery Rock carries an eight-game win streak in Saturday's championship while Harbor Creek has rattled off nine straight victories. The teams' respective semifinal victories Wednesday contrasted significantly. Slippery Rock raced past Warren, 75-60, while Harbor Creek outslugged Hickory, 45-39, in the other semifinal game.
For the second straight playoff game, freshman Hallie Raabe led Slippery Rock in scoring as she fired in 25 points against Warren. She is averaging 13.9 points over the last seven games for the Rockets (19-4). Junior Emma McDermott added 19 points, including four three-pointers, against Warren and senior Macy McCall tossed in 16 points.
McDermott leads the area with 57 three-pointers. She is Slippery Rock's top scorer at 13.8 points per game. Freshman Anna Kadlubek ranks second at 12.3 points while McCall raised her average to 11.5 points per game. Raabe is also in double figures now at 10.3 points per game. Another freshman, Maryann Ackerman is the team's fifth-leading scorer at 8.5 points per night.
Senior Jenna Heitzenrater, a 5-11 center, averages 3.5 points per game while keying the Rockets' interior defense.
Harbor Creek features one of District 10's leading scorers in junior guard Ali Benim. Benim, the daughter of legendary Penn State Behrend baseball coach Paul Benim, has a district-best 67 three-point goals this season. Her 20.4 points per game average is fourth in D-10 while her 489 points are second in the district. Benim has 978 career points after her 22-point effort Wednesday night against Hickory.
Sophomore guard Jenna Babay added 10 points against Hickory while senior Laurel Prokopchak contributed eight points. Babay averages 10.2 per game while junior center Latisha Baker averages 8.8 points per game. Prokopchak is fourth at 5.5 points per game.
Slippery Rock is 17-1 when scoring 45 points or more. Harbor Creek is 17-1 when holding teams to 45 points or less.
The Slippery Rock-Harbor Creek winner will play either Trinity or Thomas Jefferson, the District 7 No. 5 team, in the opening round of the PIAA playoffs. The D-10 runner-up faces D-7's third-place team, either Mars or Chartiers Valley.
CLASS 5A GIRLS CONSOLATION
Hickory vs. Warren, 2:30 p.m., Meadville
Saturday afternoon's consolation game between Hickory and Warren features a team with a balanced attack (Hickory) against an opponent with District 10's leading scorer. A berth in the state tournament is at stake for the winner Saturday. Hickory fell to Harbor Creek in the semifinals Wednesday night, 45-39, while Warren fell to Slippery Rock in the other 5A semifinal, 75-60.
Senior Hannah Crow leads Hickory in scoring average (12.5) and three-point goals (31). Each of Hickory's top four scorers are seniors as Carly Roesch (8.9), Hannah Aikins (7.9) and Carly Brest (6.8) join Crow in the top four. Brest is second on the team with a dozen three-pointers. Junior point guard Jessica White (6.4) rounds out Hickory's starting lineup. Junior Isabella DeJulia and sophomore Reanna Daniels are the top reserves for second-year head coach Matt Fabian.
Roesch led Hickory (15-8) with 12 points Wednesday night against Harbor Creek. Brest and White each totaled seven.
Junior guard Margo Loutzenhiser fired in a season-high 35 points Wednesday night for Warren in its loss to Slippery Rock. She moved into first place in D-10 in total points (491) and is second in scoring average at 20.4 points per game. The 5-8 Loutzenhiser has 1,052 career points. She scored 18 in the Dragons' quarterfinal win over General McLane. Loutzenhiser has three 30-point games this season.
Senior guard Autumn Hultberg is second on the team in scoring at 9.3 points per game. Warren (12-12) opened the season with a 1-8 record before rebounding in the second half of the season.
The winner will play the District 7 runner-up, either Oakland Catholic or Gateway, in the PIAA tournament first round.