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January 23, 2014

Grove City's Lady Eagles hold off ’Dogs

MEADVILLE — Casey O’Shea wasn’t looking to set the world on fire heading into her second season as Meadville’s head girls basketball coach. What she was looking for was improvement.

But not only are the Lady Bulldogs showing a mark of improvement from the beginning of the season, they are instilling a bit of fear into their opponents.

Back on Dec. 20, Meadville suffered a 50-31 loss to Region 5 foe Grove City. But after the Bulldogs’ thrilling 46-44 victory over Central Tech on Saturday that avenged a 48-31 loss back on Dec. 6, Grove City head coach T.L. Eller knew nothing was for certain heading into the House of Thrills Thursday night.

Grove City wound up pulling out a 48-42 win to improve to 9-6 overall and 4-3 in Region 5. But the Bulldogs, who fell to 3-12 overall and 1-6 in the region, certainly made it difficult, and have now become fan favorites of the Lady Eagles in their quest to make some noise in Region 5.

“They are improving everyday,” Eller said of the Bulldogs. “It’s a young team with a lot of good players. We were very scared coming here tonight.

“I just told the girls in the locker room, I’m going to be able to sleep tonight, but then I need to start worrying about the next one, because this region is just so strong. I keep saying, if we can just win the games that we need to win, I truly believe that Meadville is good enough to pull off an upset that could kind of rock the boat of the whole region.

“Go Meadville. We are their biggest fans right now, now that we have come here and gotten out alive.”

Meadville battled and was right in the thick of things through the first three quarters, trailing by no more than nine. But in the fourth quarter, the Lady Eagles pulled away and with 4:23 to play Meadville’s 33-24 deficit at the end of the third quarter had grown to 16 points (43-27). And Grove City was feeling pretty good.

“We thought to get the 16-point lead, we had played one of the better second halves that we had played,” Eller said. “We have a couple of seniors with injuries and I think certainly down the stretch that probably played into things.”

That and a determined Meadville squad.

Cadi McCoy got the rally started for the Bulldogs. McCoy scored on a layup with 4:07 to play, sparking an 11-0 run that pulled MASH to within just five (43-38) with 1:58 remaining. Hailey Hall answered to put the Eagles up by seven (45-38).

Meadville did cut the deficit back to five (45-40) on Carly Glatch’s second jumped in as many possessions. But Grove City made its free throws in the end to hold the Bulldogs at bay.

“We don’t realize sometimes that we are a good team,” O’Shea said. “I don’t think our record reflects our abilities at all, because I think on any given night if we play to our potential we can upset anybody.

“I can definitely understand that teams who come here are a little uneasy. They don’t know what kind of night we could have. That’s the inconsistency with a young team, and we don’t know either.

“Everyone I have talked to says we have improved a ton since the beginning of the season. That is all I was looking for this year. If we won the league or anything like that, that was just a bonus. I was looking for improvement and I think we are becoming a good basketball team.”

McCoy led the Bulldogs with 14 points and 14 rebounds. Glatch finished with 11 points.

For the Eagles, Jordyn Wyllie led the way with 12 points. Alexi Deyarmin had 13 rebounds. Arianna Sprando paced Grove City on the defensive side of the ball. Sprando had the task of containing the sharp-shooting Kiashiah Newsome. Newsome finished with seven points, but didn’t knock down her first field goal until the fourth quarter. It was a 3-pointer.

“We needed to focus on her defensively and Arianna Sprando guarded her most of the night and did an excellent job,” Eller said. “She didn’t get many looks. So that was good.”

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