By Pete Chiodo
The Meadville girls basketball team has a pretty big chip on its shoulder.
“People always underestimate us,” said Bulldogs senior Cadi McCoy. “But we’re better than our record is showing.”
Central Tech happened to be the team that knocked that chip off.
The Lady Bulldogs beat the Region 7-leading Falcons 46-44 Saturday afternoon at the House of Thrills.
“The most exciting game that I’ve coached, I think,” said Meadville head coach Casey O’Shea.
This was the second meeting between the two teams. In the season-opener on Dec. 6, Central Tech beat Meadville handily, 48-31.
“It was a totally different outcome,” said O’Shea. “It wasn’t even close, the first game. So, this game, I’m thrilled with them. I think they played great. They played as a team. They played loose and comfortably and just played.”
Meadville had led by as much as 13 points in the first half, but Central was able to take over the lead before halftime, and held onto in for most of the second half.
“We gave up that big lead,” said O’Shea. “I think that we haven’t really been in situations like that. So we’re not really sure yet about situational basketball, where we work for a good shot and work the clock. That kind of stuff, I think, will come.”
The Bulldogs were still trailing by five points halfway through the fourth quarter. Kiashiah Newsome cut that to two with a trey. It was her second 3-pointer of the period and fifth for the game. She would end the night with 20 points, scoring half of them in the decisive fourth. Simply put, she was hot when it mattered most.
Central Tech’s Noelle Vallimont, however, quickly followed up Newsome’s trey with a layup, quelling the momentum shift, and making it a 44-40 game with a minute and a half to play.
“When we were down by four I thought, ‘Oh boy’,” O’Shea said.
Making matters even more tense was the fact that many of the Bulldogs’ leaders were just a whistle away from leaving the game.
“I was a little uneasy about that,” O’Shea said. “Cadi had three fouls. Kiashiah had four fouls. Tomera (Schweter) had four fouls. Pretty much all of our starters were in foul trouble.”
However, the Bulldogs played the final minute and a half like a team that was fed up with watching games slip away.
Central Tech would not get in the hoop the rest of the afternoon as the frantic Bulldogs’ defense forced the Falcons into a handful of turnovers during their final possessions.
Now the ’Dogs needed to score some points.
Schweter got things going with an offensive rebound and a putback with a minute left to make it 44-42.
Then with 30 ticks remaining, Newsome picked off an inbounds pass and took it wire-to-wire for a layup to tie the game at 44-44.
Back down the court, Central Tech gave the ball to their leading scorer, Abby Klemm, who had 18 points in the books already.
Klemm drove the lane and went up to shoot. Instead she met with a wall of upraised arms that were attached to McCoy. Both Klemm and the ball landed out of bounds. MASH ball.
The Bulldogs hustled down the court as the final seconds drained off the clock. The clutch kid, Newsome, fired up a mid-range jumper. It bounced off the backboard and missed the hoop ...
... and fell into the hand of McCoy. She was up and in with the putback. The buzzer sounded. Bulldogs win.
“Any time Kiashiah or anybody shoots, I’m the rebounder,” said McCoy, who finished with a dozen points. “I like to go in and rebound. So when she’s driving in I’m not going to let her go in there by herself.
“I’ve got backup,” said Newsome.
“Yeah, I’m the backup,” McCoy said.
“That was a big rebound and a big putback,” said O’Shea.” Sometimes our little putbacks don’t bounce our way. But today they did.”
The loss drops Central’s record to 7-8 on the season.
Meadville improves to 3-10. Yet, as the Lady ’Dogs proved yesterday, that record doesn’t mean teams should expect an easy win.
They should, according to Newsome, “Expect the unexpected. That’s a quote from Kiashiah Newsome.”
“Kiashiah, I don’t think you actually made that up,” said McCoy.
“Well,” Newsome replied, “I did today.”