By Andy Close
CLARION, Pa. – Karns City fought off a cold-shooting third-quarter to win its second straight District 9 Class AA girls’ basketball championship with a 43-27 win over Redbank Valley Saturday afternoon at Clarion University’s Tippin Gym.
“People have been coming after us for two years and we get everybody’s best shot every night,” said Karns City coach Dave Kerschbaumer. “We knew it wasn’t going to be easy. We had some injuries and other things throughout the year but the kids were focused and really played in the fourth quarter like we needed them to.”
The top-seeded Lady Gremlins (22-3), who led 27-15 at halftime, shot just 1 of 14 in the third quarter and were outscored 8-2 by second-seeded Redbank Valley (18-7) which helped the Lady Bulldogs pull within six, 29-23, going to the fourth quarter.
But Karns City scored the first six points of the final quarter and went up 12, 37-25, on an Emily LoPresti 3-pointer with 4:37 to play. The Lady Gremlins lead never fell below 10 after that. This moments after she came up with a steal of Cassie Fink that led to an easy layup.
“I have pretty good vision and can usually tell what’s going to happen,” LoPresti said. “I saw her eyes move and I stepped in and made the steal.”
LoPresti led Karns City with 12 points and came oh so close to a triple-double adding eight rebounds and eight steals while also dishing out two assists.
“She’s a soccer player and she’s got quick feet,” Kerschbaumer said. “She gets after people and makes things happen on the defensive end. She’s sneaky and she picks and chooses her time to go.”
LeeAnn Gibson chipped in 11 points, four rebounds and three steals, and Shanel Preston had 10 points, seven rebounds and four steals with all 10 of her points coming before halftime.
Brooke Hinderliter led Redbank Valley with 13 points, six rebounds, four steals and three blocked shots. Megan Bain added six points and three rebounds.
Karns City made things difficult for Hinerdliter, forcing her the ball out of hands on multiple occasions with double teams.
“Brooke knows what she wants to do,” Kerschbaumer said. “We thought if we could throw some different looks at her it would make them hesitate.”
Karns City built the double-digit halftime lead thanks to a full-court press that forced Redbank Valley into 18 first-half turnovers that led to 18 of the Lady Gremlins 27 first-half points.
The Lady Gremlins jumped out to a 15-4 lead in the first quarter and trailed just once in the game, 2-0.
“We had to do the small things well, take care of the ball and rebound and we weren’t doing that in the first half,” said Redbank Valley coach Amy Twigg. “We got within six and ran out of gas and they picked it up.
Redbank cleaned up its turnover problem in the second half giving the ball away just eight times in the half, and Karns City slumped from the floor going just 4 of 19 (19 percent) in the half allowing the Lady Bulldogs to climb back into the game.
“We just needed to get it going,” LoPresti said. “We couldn’t make anything in the third quarter and our defense wasn’t the best, but we were able to get some steals and make some shots in the fourth.”
Both teams advance to the PIAA playoffs. Karns City will take on Burrell, the WPIAL’s fourth-place team, while Redbank Valley will face Carlynton, the WPIAL’s third-place finisher.
NOTES – Karns City shot 28 percent (14 of 50) from the floor and 4 of 18 (22.2 percent) from 3-point range while also going just 11 of 19 from the free-throw line … Redbank Valley shot 32.3 percent (10 of 31) from the floor … There was a moment of silence before the game for Karns City sophomore Briggs Buck, who was tragically killed in an ATV accident Friday … Kerschbaumer said that counseling was made available to the students.
KARNS CITY 43, REDBANK VALLEY 27
Score by Quarters
Redbank 4 11 8 4 – 27
Karns City 15 12 2 14 – 43
Redbank Valley – 27
Megan Bain 3-5 0-0 6, Cassie Fink 1-3 0-0 2, Becca Doughterty 03 2-2 2, Brooke Hinderliter 5-10 3-3 13, Kaelyn Gruver 1-7 1-3 3, Macy King 0-1 0-0 0, Sam Landers 0-2 1-2 1, Cambria Hornberger 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 10-31 7-10 27.
Karns City – 43
Alyssa Gibson 0-1 2-2 2, Emily LoPresti 5-13 1-2 12, LeeAnn Gibson 3-9 4-9 11, Annie Hegedus 0-1 0-0 0, Shanel Preston 4-10 0-0 10, Emily Hegedus 2-7 2-4 6, Abby Wolfe 0-0 2-2 2, Saydie Moore 0-0 0-0 0, LeErin Jones 0-0 0-0 0, Mackenzie Craig 0-0 0-0 0, Clara Stoughton 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 14-50 11-19 43.
Three-pointers – Redbank Valley 0-3 (Bain 0-1, Dougherty 0-1, Hinderliter 0-1). Karns city 4-18 (Presotn 2-9, L. Gibson 1-2, LoPresti 1-7).