South Fayette girls battle through injuries

Lions battling through injuries

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To say the South Fayette girls basketball team has dealt with injuries this season would an understatement.


A severe one, too.


“We’ve only had our full roster for three days. Not three games, three days,” Lions coach Matt Bacco said. “It’s just been a bizarre year like that.”


Surprisingly, though, it’s been a playoff-bound year as well, with the Lions (7-4, 12-6) needing a win tonight over Trinity and a Quaker Valley loss to visiting Moon to snatch the No. 2 seed in Section 5-AAA.


If the Quakers win, South Fayette will be third, thanks to a pair of regular season losses in the series.


Of the Lions’ top eight players, five have endured prolonged absences, most recently forward Emily Anderson for a five-game stretch with a knee injury.


Guard Min Wells and forward Shannon Gillespie started the year with injuries, while guards Mikayla Fetchet and Rachel Closky also missed significant chunks of time.


Only forward Lauren Crites and guards Caitlin McLuckie and Kristen Hardt have been mainstays in the team’s lineup.


“We haven’t been able to field a full, eight- or nine-person rotation,” Bacco said. “We’ve probably used five or six starting lineups this year for a variety of reasons.


“We’ve never had a full array of options at our disposal.”


Crites and Hardt both had 10-point games during a 55-44 win over Moon on Jan. 31, with Crites adding 16 points during Saturday’s 60-24 win over Washington.


McLuckie is averaging a team-best 10.2 points per game. Anderson was putting up nine points and nine rebounds per game before she was injured, and Crites is at 8.2 points per game.


“The kids are doing the best they can,” Bacco said. “We’ve had a heck of a lot of injuries this year, so we’ve had a number of people step up.”


Ringgold not far off


Like South Fayette, Ringgold’s girls basketball team has kept the school’s training staff busy.


And like the Lions, the Rams are headed for the postseason, having clinched the No. 4 seed in Section 4-AAA with 43-32 win at Thomas Jefferson last week.


“We’ve been enduring,” said Rams coach Nick Mandich. “Whenever you lose people, you just have to adjust to what you have.”


Guard Eleni Radic, who was out since June, returned Dec. 28, then suffered four broken bones in her foot against the Jaguars, ending her season. Fellow guard Charise Barner tore her ACL in June and returned in early January.


Still, Ringgold finished the section slate at 6-6 after Tuesday’s 48-47, overtime loss at Elizabeth Forward, which came after the Rams won three of four.


Subdued celebration for Pritz


The fact that Peters Township senior Gabe Pritz reached 1,000 career points at a Class AAAA school is impressive enough, given that starting for four years in the state’s largest classification is rarity.


But also remember that Pritz didn’t play basketball as a freshman because of a knee injury and missed about a third of his sophomore season after separating his shoulder.


He reached 1,000 points during Peters Township’s 42-41 home loss to Baldwin on Tuesday, and although he was in no mood to celebrate – “After a loss like that, you can’t celebrate too much,” Pritz said – the 6-5 forward did acknowledge how much pride he took in reaching the milestone.


“Doing it in, really, two and a half years of basketball, it means a lot,” said Pritz, who’s averaging 19.7 points per game this season. “I really mean it that I could never have done it without my coaches and teammates.”


Lions make history


The South Fayette girls swim and dive team continued its dominant season with a 96-87 dual meet win over Peters Township Tuesday night, the first in program history over the historically strong Indians.


Morgan Fink finished first in the 200-yard freestyle and the 100 breaststroke, Maddie Bartrug won the 50 free and 100 fly, and the 200 medley relay team of Mary Rosati, Fink, Bartrug and Tiana Marrese took first place as well.


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