KARNS CITY, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Don’t look now, but the “Super Sophs” are just starting to hit their stride.
The Moniteau girls basketball team, playing at times with five sophomores on the floor, got off to a torrid start at Karns City Thursday night, sprinting out to a 21-8 lead early in the second quarter.
And just about everyone had a hand in it.
The Warriors also withstood a prodigious Karns City run — the Gremlins stormed back to take a one-point lead at the half.
But Catherine Kelly — one of those sophomores — hit three clutch free throws in the final nine seconds and Moniteau emerged with a gritty 42-36 road win over the Gremlins.
The Warriors have now won three out of their last four games after a shaky start to the season.
“We get a W and I don’t care how (we get it),” said Moniteau coach Dee Arblaster. “We’re going to take it.”
It wasn’t always pretty, but Moniteau found a way with a stubborn defense and just enough key baskets in the second half to pull out the victory.
Abbey Jewart — yes, another sophomore — banked-in a 3-pointer just 15 seconds into the second half to give the Warriors the lead for good.
“She hits clutch shots,” Arblaster said. “She knows that’s what we need from her.”
Karns City threatened, tying the game at 29-29, but a 7-0 run by Moniteau gave the Warriors some breathing room and they nursed the lead, holding off several Gremlin threats to erase it, to the final buzzer.
“We made a couple of mental mistakes there, but I’m happy,” Arblaster said. “They’re young. They’re sophomores.”
It was a tale of two vastly different quarters to begin the game.
Moniteau (4-4, 3-1) dominated the first eight minutes and Karns City (4-4, 2-2) had its way with the Warriors in the second quarter, going on a 15-2 run to tie the game at 23-23. Karns City led 25-24 at the break.
The Gremlins couldn’t sustain that momentum, though, missing their first eight shots to start the third quarter.
“We just haven’t found that stride,” said Karns City coach Steve Andreassi. “That’s what we’ve been working toward. We’ve been working toward being fluid on offense, and we had it in the second quarter, and then we lose it.
“We go in with a very positive attitude in the third quarter,” Andreassi added, “and then we come out flat.”
Moniteau’s defense had a lot to do with that.
The Warriors packed in a zone that made life very difficult in the paint for Karns City.
“Our girls work real hard on that,” Arblaster said. “I would like to play man to man, but they like to play a zone, so we comprise a little bit and we’ll play a little of both back and forth. But our girls, I think they played hard tonight.”
Karns City did, too, taking away Kelly for much of the game.
Kelly, Moniteau’s leading scorer, still ended up with 12 points — seven coming in the pivotal fourth quarter.
Kelly, though, was more pleased with how her teammates stepped up around her.
“I’m really proud,” Kelly said. “It was just a great team win. This is really a turning point for us. This is a big rivalry win, but we need to show we can keep pushing and keep it going.”
Arblaster said what Karns City tried to do against Kelly is nothing new.
“We’re going to see that all year,” Arblaster said. “That’s what we talked about last year with Aslyn (Pry) — Catherine stepped up big last year. We have four girls at any time who can be our leading scorer, in my opinion.”
That includes Kendall Sankey, who just returned a week ago from a knee injury that kept her out almost an entire calendar year. Sankey scored 10.
Jewart added eight. Victoria Pry pitched in seven and Davina Pry five for the balanced Warriors.
Emma Johns scored 13 to lead Karns City. The senior hit three 3-pointers in the first half, but the Gremlins’ offense sputtered in every quarter but the second. Karns City scored 17 in the second and 19 in the other three quarters combined.
“I think maybe the offensive woes at times affects us on the other end,” Andreassi said. “Irregardless, they are willing to work their tails off and we’re never going to lose confidence. We as coaches have to apparently figure out some better devices, too.
“We’ve given up 46 (in a loss to Clarion-Limestone) and 42 points (this week) and we scored 42 and 36 and that’s not going to do it,” Andreassi added. “You can’t win consistently when you’re scoring that. We’re still working on it.”