Things were going pretty well for the Meadville boys basketball team.
The Bulldogs were riding a seven-game winning streak and were just a game back of Region 5-leading Hickory going into Friday’s game at Oil City.
Today, Meadville finds itself in a much different situation.
Friday night did not end as many would anticipate.
The Bulldogs, who had been shooting the ball very well, hit a wall. They shot just 35.4 percent for the game and scored just six points in the third quarter en route to a 62-52 loss to the Oilers, who had entered the game with just two region wins.
The loss was Meadville’s first since falling to Hickory back on Dec. 18 (75-63) and dropped the Bulldogs to two games back of the Hornets in the Region 5 standings and in a tie for second place with Franklin.
Question now is, how will the Bulldogs respond?
Meadville (10-3, 6-2 Region 5) has little time to dwell on Friday night’s loss. Today, the Bulldogs begin the second half of the regular season at Sharon. On Thursday, the ’Dogs play host to Hickory.
Earlier this season, Meadville beat Sharon 81-74 at the House of Thrills in a game that got a little too close for comfort late. Zak Price led the Bulldogs with 23 points. Khalil Hopson and Darrell Stovall had 19 points apiece for the Tigers (6-7, 4-4), who are tied with Farrell (7-7, 4-4) for fourth place in Region 5, just two games back of Meadville and Franklin (8-6, 6-2).
Sharon has lost three of its last five games, but the Tigers have not lost at home yet this season.
The Bulldogs cannot afford to go into Thursday’s game with Hickory on a two-game losing streak.
Starting off with a bang
Meadville isn’t the only team looking to make some noise as the second half of the season gets underway today across the area.
In Region 3 girls basketball, the top four teams in the standings meet tonight. Region-leading Conneaut hosts fourth-place Cambridge Springs, while Cochranton and Saegertown — tied for second place in the region — square off in Saegertown.
Both Conneaut and Cochranton are sitting pretty comfortably going into the second half of the season. The Eagles are in prime position to earn a District 10 Class AAA playoff spot at 12-2 overall. Cochranton is currently the top Class A team in the region by two games over Eisenhower and should also earn a playoff spot. The question comes at Class AA.
Saegertown (7-5, 4-2 Region 3) is currently the top Class AA team in Region 3, but by just a game over Cambridge Springs (8-5, 3-3). According to District 10, “in mixed classification regions the highest ranking team in classification will qualify provided there are two or more teams of the same classification.” That means only one of those teams is guaranteed a spot in the eight-team bracket. And earning an at-large spot in Class AA could be difficult.
Going into today’s action, Sharpsville (7-6 overall) and General McLane (13-1) would qualify as champions of regions 2 and 4, respectively, and Saegertown would be the automatic qualifier out of Region 3. The front runners for the remaining at-large bids would be North East (12-1), Seneca (11-3), Girard (10-4), Mercer (9-4) and Sharon (8-5).
Cambridge Springs is at Cochranton on Thursday. It could be a big week for the Lady Blue Devils.
In county boys basketball, it could be a relatively uneventful week unless someone pulls off a big upset. Region 3 leader Saegertown is at Eisenhower today. Cochranton hosts Jamestown in a non-region tilt on Wednesday. Conneaut doesn’t play again until Jan. 29 when it hosts Cochranton.
Saegertown, Conneaut and Cochranton are the top three teams, respectively, in Region 3.
Roll out the carpet
So the first half of the season has come and gone, and there are a few players and teams who made it a pretty entertaining first half.
First, how about General McLane sophomore Michelle Jahn?
Jahn finished the first half of the season averaging 14.9 points per game — second best in the Trib’s coverage area — and with a whopping 35 3-pointers. Cambridge Springs’ Taylor Babb and Meadville’s Shauntia Vactor-Pope are second in the area in treys. How many? 14.
Conneaut’s Kristen Baker is the area’s leading scorer with 15.4 points per game.
General McLane and Conneaut also made some noise collectively in the first half of the season and both lead their respective regions going into the second half. But the team that came away with perhaps the most impressive first half would have to be the Lakeview boys basketball team.
The Sailors are 12-2 overall and 5-1 in Region 2 with their lone losses coming to John Hay (Ohio) and West Middlesex, which remains ranked No. 8 in the state in Class AA in The Patriot-News’ latest state rankings.
Lakeview already had one player reach the 1,000-point mark for his career this season. Casey Greggs became the first for the boys since 2002 to reach that milestone. Dalton Boggs could add his name to that list in the second half of the season.
Who will be the stars of the second half? Stay tuned.
Things were going pretty well for the Meadville boys basketball team.
H.S. WRESTLING: Meadville storms to rout of East
Motivation can be a difficult thing to find as a wrestler when entering a match against an inexperienced Erie East squad that has a difficult time filling a lineup.
Then again, not everyone wrestles like Meadville’s Ashton Longstreth.
H.S. WRESTLING: Muskies outlast Eagles
With Linesville on its north end and Jamestown coming up from the south shore, Thursday night’s Region 2 wrestling match between Conneaut and Jamestown shaped up to be the battle of the Pymatuning.
By the end of the night, it was the Muskies ruling the waters as they downed the Eagles 46-30.
Don Granda Jr. in search of elusive 100
Can Don Granda Jr. reach 100? That is the question circulating through the local bowling waves as Granda Jr. once again demonstrated his greatness with two 300 games in a six-day span at Lakeside Lanes.
Big first quarter lifts Conneaut past Cambridge Springs
A year ago, the Conneaut girls basketball team did everything necessary to win the Region 3 title, finishing the region season at a perfect 12-0.
H.S. BASKETBALL: Trojans roll over Bulldogs
The Meadville boys basketball team was looking for, as head coach Mark McElhinny put it, “a good, hard workout” before heading into the Region 5 portion of its schedule.
H.S. WRESTLING: Saegertown come up short against Bison again
The Fort LeBoeuf wrestling team showed the home spectators why it is one of the top programs in the state Tuesday night. The Saegertown wrestling team may have shown itself that it isn’t far off from catching the Bison.
H.S. HOCKEY: Bulldogs gain momentum with shutout
The Meadville hockey team will end the week with a trip up to Ontario, Canada for a two- to three-day tournament in Niagara Falls.
NFL: Dolphins shake off weather to beat Steelers
Considering everything the resilient Miami Dolphins have put themselves through over the last two months, a couple of snowflakes were hardly going to be a problem.
Not with Ryan Tannehill throwing and running like a guy who enjoys the white stuff. Not with Charles Clay muscling through the arm tackle of a likely Hall of Famer for the winning score. Not even with a Keystone Kops finale that ever so briefly appeared to be for real.
NFL: Pats score twice in final 61 seconds to beat Browns
Nearly everything had to go right for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots to pull off their latest comeback.
Just about everything did.
Brady threw two touchdown passes and the Cleveland Browns committed two critical penalties in the final 61 seconds as the Patriots stormed to a 27-26 victory on Sunday.
BOYS BASKETBALL: McElhinny gets first Bulldogs win in rout
Asked how important it was getting the team’s first win of the season, Meadville’s head boys basketball coach Mark McElhinny blurted out the answer before the question was even finished.
“Huge,” he said.
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