Hillers make progress, still fall to South Park

March 8, 2014

CORAOPOLIS – The gap between the Trinity High School girls basketball team and South Park continues to shrink. The only problem for Trinity is there are no more games to play against the Eagles this season.

South Park, the Section 5 champion and WPIAL runner-up, defeated Trinity for the fourth time this season, 65-48, Saturday in the first round of the PIAA Class AAA playoffs at Moon High School.

This meeting, however, was much closer than the first three, each won by South Park, by margins of 39, 37 and 26 points. Almost all facets of Trinity’s play drew praise from head coach Bob Miles, and there were long stretches the Hillers can be proud of. They outscored South Park in the second half and matched the Eagles basket-for-basket for the game’s opening 11 minutes.

The bad news for the Hillers is South Park is a dangerous offensive team and the Eagles proved as much during a five-minute stretch of the second quarter, when they outscored the Hillers 19-2.

“Five minutes of the second quarter,” Miles said. “That was the game. It went from a one-point game to a 20-point game just like that.”

South Park’s run closed the first half and turned a 20-17 lead into a 39-19 halftime advantage. South Park made seven three-pointers in the game, including five in the second quarter, when it outscored Trinity 25-6.

“They’re very good,” Miles said. “We tried to switch up our defenses, mix a little zone with our man-to-man. We just weren’t able to stop them during that five-minute stretch.”

That stretch came when Trinity had 6-2 sophomore center Mary Dunn on the bench. She drew her second personal foul early in the second quarter and took a seat on the bench as Miles tried to keep her out of foul trouble. When she was in the game, Dunn dominated play in the lane. She scored 11 points in the first quarter, which ended with South Park holding a 14-13 lead.

“At that point, the last thing we needed was for Mary to pick up her third foul,” Miles said.

Halie Torris, who scored a game-high 24 points, and point guard Lindsey Noss each tossed in eight points, including a pair of three-pointers, in the second quarter. Noss finished with 13 points.

Allison McGrath, who had 30 points in South Park’s WPIAL quarterfinal win over Trinity, scored 16 points.

Dunn led Trinity with 23 points.

“From the beginning of the year to tonight, Mary has gotten so much better,” Miles said. “She finished shots around the rim that at the beginning of the season were misses. Her rebounding also has gotten better. And she’s aggressive on the ball. Now she understands there are no easy games. She has to play at a high level every night.”

Kelly Korpus, one of only two seniors on the Trinity roster, had nine points despite hyperextending a knee during practice Friday that had her status in jeopardy.

“We didn’t know if she was going to play until she got on the bus today,” Miles said. “I’m glad she was able to play because I didn’t want to be the one to tell her that she couldn’t.”

Rachel Phillis scored eight points for Trinity, which outscored South Park 29-26 in the second half.

“This was the best game we played against South Park,” Miles said. “We handled their defensive pressure early and got them back on their heels by getting the ball inside to Mary. Our kids aren’t in awe of South Park, unlike the first two times we played them. We felt like this game was within our grasp.”

Dunn agreed.

“The awe factor disappeared in the second half of the WPIAL playoff game,” she said. “We fell behind in the first half, then made a big comeback to get back in the game. That had us thinking we can beat them.”

Chris Dugan has been covering local sports for more than 30 years and has been with the Observer-Reporter since 1986. He was named sports editor in 2006. Before joining the O-R, he was sports editor at the Democrat-Messenger in Waynesburg. He is a former member of the Baseball Writers Association of America. If you have an idea for a story, send him an email at dugan@observer-reporter.com.

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