Cougar girls grab sectional tourney victory
NEW MATAMORAS — Frontier came out ready to play in Wednesday night’s Division IV sectional opener against visiting Steubenville Central Catholic at the Hank Morus Gymnasium.
The young Cougars showed no signs whatsoever of stage fright as they jumped out to a double-digit first half lead and withstood a Crusader challenge in the second half to score a 57-46 victory to advance to the sectional final on Saturday afternoon.
“We’ve only got one senior so this is the first tournament win for these girls and I’m really happy for them,” said head coach Mike Cisler. “Hopefully now that we’ve got this one under our belt we can keep it going.”
Frontier made five 3-pointers in the opening quarter to pull out to a 10-point lead and led by as many as 14 points in the second.
Cougar sophomores Kara Ramsey and Jalynn Shapley each knocked down a pair of first quarter triples as Frontier held a 17-8 lead at the end of the opening period.
Midway through the second quarter Frontier went on a 7-2 run sparked by field goals by sophomore Tacey Kirkpatrick and senior Logan Haught to push their lead to 12 and after the Crusaders responded with six consecutive points, the Cougars returned the favor by scoring eight straight points with Haught and sophomore Emily Cisler executing the high-low game to perfection resulting in a pair of field goals apiece.
SCC managed to whittle the lead back down to 10 before the first half came to a close to remain within shouting distance of the Cougars.
Frontier freshman Grace Knowlton canned her second 3-pointer of the game to open the second half and sophomore Kylie Lamm followed with an inside bucket to stretch the lead to 15.
Minutes later a pair of freebies by Katie Zatta, who was a perfect 6-for-6 in the game from the charity stripe, briefly halted the Cougars’ run before they scored five straight points to stake claim to their biggest lead of the night at 44-25.
“We had a game plan and really wanted to push the basketball and I thought the girls a pretty good job of that,” noted Cisler.
Central Catholic had one last run in them as they scored eight straight points to close out the third quarter and picked up right where they left when Ali Grimm connected from long range to open the final quarter to cut the FHS lead back to just eight at 46-38.
The young Cougars responded by scoring the next seven points to push their lead back to 15 and they held on the rest of the way to score their 10th victory of the season compared to 11 losses.
“I thought we played three really good quarters and maybe got a little tired their toward the end and let them back in it,” said Cisler. “We turned it over a couple of times too many and missed a few shots but overall I’m very proud of our effort.”
The Cougars placed three girls in double figures led by Lamm with 12, Knowlton with 11 and Ramsey with 10.
Frontier got a huge spark from its non-starters as Haught and Shapley tallied eight and six points respectively.
The Crusaders were led by Zatta with 13 points while Ellen Rohde and Grimm added nine and Morgan Green eight.
Rohde just missed a double-double as she pulled down a game-high 16 rebounds.
The loss ended the season for the Crusaders with a 7-14 mark while Frontier will advance to the sectional final Saturday afternoon at home against the neighbor River Pilots,
The Cougars have already beaten the Pilots twice this season, both times by just two points.
“They were very close basketball games both times so we know it’s going to be a dogfight,”said Cisler of the sectional final scheduled for a 1 o’clock tip-off. “They (River) are a young team too and they are going to come in charged up so it will be a great atmosphere and ought to be a good game.”