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On the Fly: Union Makes Adjustment After Slow Start, Buckles Down Against Port Allegany for Playoff Victory

RIMERSBURG, Pa. (EYT/D9) — As each arcing 3-point shot that nearly scraped the ceiling inside the Union High School gym fell through the rim with a swish, Ally Kepple became more and more concerned.

Port Allegany’s shooters were red hot. The same could not be said for Kepple’s Union offense.

Three minutes into the second quarter, down 21-15, Kepple figured enough was enough. She called a timeout, reset her defense and lit a fire under her O.

It worked. The Damsels outscored the Gators 34-10 the rest of the way for a 49-31 District 9 Class A first-round playoff win.

“We came out with our game plan and they came down and hit those 3s,” Kepple said. “That wasn’t in the game plan, so I’m like we better make adjustments before it gets too late. We switched our defense there and I thought that the girls did a great job adjusting.”

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.

Port Allegany got a pair of 3-pointers from Kayleigh Dowell and Erin Stauffer and another from Leigha Nelson to help build that 21-15 lead. The Gators came in averaging 34.4 points per game, but put up 15 in the first quarter alone and 21 in the game’s first 11 minutes.

Then, the sledding go very rough for Port Allegany.

The Gators went 11 minutes without scoring at one point. What was a 21-15 lead had turned into a 31-21 deficit before Dowell hit a 3-pointer to end the drought.

“I looked up at the scoreboard at one point late in the third and we had 21 points,” said Port Allegany coach Jamie Evans. “I thought to myself, ‘We’ve been at 21 points for an awfully long time. It’s been awhile since we scored.’ That’s been the story of our season. We’re a very streaky team, and we’re young.

(Dominika Logue was named the Hager Paving Incorporated Player of the Game)

“That first quarter was probably the best we’ve played all season.”

The Gators went into the half with a 21-20 lead.

It could have been a three-point advantage, but Dominika Logue got a steal and found Hailey Theuret streaking down the court with a pass for an easy layup with two seconds on the clock.

“She ran the floor really well,” Logue said. “I was happy to get the ball to her.”

“That was a huge momentum-changer right there,” Kepple added.

Union needed it because the first half was a slog.

“I kind of described the first half as we were a little rattled on the offensive end and it was a struggle for us,” Kepple said. “A lot of turnovers. A lot of missed layups — I think I counted nine of them in the first half. That’s 18 points we could have had there.”

Union (14-7) dominated the second half.

Logue had a big game. She scored 14 points and also handled the ball, got rebounds and steals and handed out assists.

Everything in the offense runs through the senior, who was the tallest player on the court at 5-foot-10. Her position for the Damsels is undefinable.

“I’ve been doing that for as long as I can remember,” Logue said. “I love it. It’s just basketball to me.”

Logue said she hasn’t been satisfied with how she has played this season.

Tuesday against Port Allegany, though, she felt she was starting to break out of her self-described funk.

“It was a little better,” Logue said, grinning. “I haven’t been playing my best and it wasn’t one of my best games, but I’m getting there.”

Kepple thinks Logue is being too hard on herself.

She asks a lot of Logue and Kepple said her senior star always finds a way to deliver.

“She’s doing so much, you know,” Kepple said. “She’s rebounding. She’s dishing and doing other things like that. She does a great job getting her teammates involved and gets them open because of the attention she gets.”

Union was balanced against Port Allegany (12-11) — a hallmark of the Damsels’ success.

Hailey Kriebel added 12 points, Kennedy Vogle pitched in 10 points and Keira Croyle contributed nine more points to the victory.

“That’s what it’s going to take to win these playoff games,” Kepple said. “Teams are gonna probably to take aim Dominika and maybe Croyle, and other people have to step up.”

Union will travel to Otto-Eldred to take on the Terrors in the next round of the playoffs at 6 p.m. Friday. The Union boys team will also play Otto-Eldred at 7:30 p.m. that night.

Logue is hoping the momentum the Damsels built in the second half against Port Allegany will carry over into the next round at Otto-Eldred.

“This wasn’t one of our best games, but I think as the game progressed we were starting to get things figured out,” Logue said. “Hopefully we can keep that going.”

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.