After the Trinity girls basketball team lost is Class AAA WPIAL quarterfinal game to Section 5-rival South Park, the Hillers found themselves in an unfamiliar position. They were forced to root for the Eagles to reach the WPIAL title game, which would clinch a spot for Trinity in the PIAA Playoffs.
Trinity got its wish when South Park defeated Elizabeth Forward, 44-40, in the semifinals. At that point, pulling for the Eagles to win was out the window. It was time for the Hillers to prepare for the state playoffs. And when South Park lost to Blackhawk in the WPIAL title game, it thrust Trinity into an unfortunate scenario: having to play the Eagles in the first round of the state playoffs.
The fourth meeting between the section rivals will begin at 5:30 p.m. today at Moon Area High School.
The Hillers gathered in the locker room before a practice this week when head coach Bob Miles asked them to name every detail they could remember about South Park from the previous games – which ended with a 34.7 average margin of defeat. Answers ranged from the Eagles’ leading scorer, sophomore Allison McGrath, being a right-handed shooter, to senior guard Lindsey Noss being left-handed, to the key to the Eagles’ quarterfinal win: strong three-point shooters.
Miles was impressed.
“We’re very familiar with each other,” Miles said. “That’s a key for both teams. Obviously they know what our weaknesses are. They are going to pressure us and we are going to try to prevent them from putting those shots on the perimeter.”
The matchup is one of polar opposites. South Park (21-5) rolled through the PIAA playoffs last season on its way to a state title, while Trinity (17-7) missed the playoffs in 2013 with an overall record of 10-12. Trinity returned just three seniors from that Hillers squad which averaged just 43.8 points per game.
While senior guard Kelly Korpus has been a steady leader for the Hillers this season, it is freshman guard Sierra Kotchman who has surprised the competition. Kotchman, a strong perimeter shooter, is averaging a team-high 12.7 points per game for Trinity this season.
“It’s been a great experience,” Kotchman said. “I’ve learned a lot this season. I’ve learned a lot from the upperclassmen. It was nerve-racking to start out as a freshman on varsity, but after the first few games, I got used to it. It has been a lot of fun.”
Not far behind Kotchman in the stat column is sophomore center Mary Dunn, who has averaged 12.6 points per game. Dunn has vastly improved in her second season of varsity basketball – causing opposing teams to stack the lane to prevent her from grabbing rebounds and scoring points.
That has left Kotchman, Korpus and others to receive open looks. But it is not the Hillers’ offense that has Miles concerned.
“Our offense will come from our defense,” Miles said. “Few teams are able to limit (South Park) to one and done and limit them in transition. (My team) has to understand that there is nothing to fear. There are no surprises. We know who they are putting on the floor, we know what they do and by now, we should know how to handle it.”