Ava Jones

Saegertown’s Ava Jones (21) and Courtney Hess (44) work the Panthers’ 2-3 zone defense against Mercer in the first round of the District 10 Class 2A playoffs on Saturday at Mercer High School. The Panthers defense was a big factor in their 46-22 win over the Lady M’s.

MERCER — A good 2-3 zone can be tough to play against with any offense.  And Saegertown runs a pretty good 2-3 zone.

In the first round of the District 10 Class 2A girls basketball playoffs, the Panthers used that ‘D’ to hold Mercer to just eight field goals in a 46-22 win at Mercer High School on Saturday night.

“The kids were moving good on defense. (Mercer) got a few 3s on us, but they didn’t get a lot of good looks,” said Saegertown coach Steve Scott.

The best way to beat a 2-3 is just to hit your shots from beyond the arc. In the beginning, the Mustangs got their treys. Delaney Fisher and Mackenzie Baker both knocked down 3-pointers in the first quarter. 

The problem for the Mustangs is that Saegertown was on fire in the first. Mollie Przybrowski dropped a long jump shot making it 6-3 early.

With 2:52, Katelyn Young hit her third basket of the quarter making it 12-8.

Following a runner from Mercer’s Grace Godfrey that made it 12-10, the Panthers found Kaylee Mulligan on a backdoor cut for two.

In the closing seconds, Przybrowski made another shot to push it to 16-10.

“We come out right out the get-go. We were hitting our shots right off the bat,” said Scott.

The momentum carried into the second with Carlie Schlosser knocking down a 3-pointer. Mercer answered with a trey of its own, but then wouldn’t score for the rest of the quarter. The Mustangs would miss their next eight attempts.

“They play a nice zone,” said Mercer head coach Aaron Cook. “They cover all positions. We had trouble getting it inside.”

Meanwhile, Schlosser and the Panthers continued to score. With 4:08 to go, Schlosser found nylon on another shot from behind the arc, making it 24-13.

She added another basket to bring her total to 10 in the first half.

The Panthers then worked the ball around up 26-13 with one minute left. They wasted the rest of the clock and then found Young on a backdoor cut for the 15-point lead at the break.

Mercer needed to make a push in the third, but couldn’t get the offense rolling after an early 4-0 run. The Panthers increased their lead to 35-18 after three quarters with two fast break scores from Ava Jones.

“We try to look for (outlet passes),” said Scott. “If it’s not there, then we go and set the offense up from there. But, we did a good job today.”

Jones continued to make plays in the fourth with four more baskets. One was a highlight reel scramble for the Panthers. Courtney Hess made a nice save on the sideline that found Jones running towards the hoop. She banked it home for the 42-22 lead. 

Later, she added a putback to get to the final score of 46-22. The Panthers shot nearly 50 percent from the floor with 20 made shots out of 42 attempts.

“The kids played well today,” said Scott. “Everybody played their role today. They didn’t try to do too much. They looked for each other well. Made some nices passes in there. Ran the floor well. Really nice game.”

Jones led the Panthers (12-11) with 15 points. Schlosser and Young each contributed 12.

For Mercer (13-10), the understaffed Mustangs were missing four key players and fielded a young lineup. Fisher and Lizzy Fedorchak led the Mustangs with seven points each. 

Jordan Hansgen can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at jhansgen@meadvilletribune.com

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