Super Sophomore Ely bags giant Eagles
Penn Hills coaches John Tate, Robert Cash, Alisha Johnson, Dominique Duck, Samantha Chavers, had six days to simmer and hope the Lady Indians would play “angry” following a surprising loss against Norwin in the WPIAL championship game.
It was only one game. Something positive, however, emerged from an otherwise forgettable night at the Petersen Event Center. Coach Tate got a hungry and focused team.
The Indians defeated City League champion Obama Academy, 39-26, at Allderdice on Friday night.
Penn Hills super sophomore guard Desiree Oliver said she was happy her team came out with a win but disappointed the Indians lost the WPIAL championship.
“I have been playing basketball since I was in the third grade. We know a lot of players from Obama from the summer leagues and we have great athletes and so do they,” she said. “And we are on a mission after losing the WPIAL championship and I think we can make a run at states.”
Penn Hills (17-10) and Obama (16-9) are probably the most evenly matched teams in the state. But, the Eagles found themselves down 9-1 at the end of the 1st and 18-6 at halftime.
Obama fought back from a 12-point deficit at halftime to cut the score to 27-21 in the 4th quarter at the 5:16 mark. A steal by junior Trese Williams, who went coast-to-coast for a layup and another layup by Michaela Porter kept hope alive for all the Eagles fans.
But Oliver was able to dribble, pass and shoot the Indians past Obama. Pressure defense and Jade Ely were too much to overcome.
Ely, is that rarest of breeds, a totally dominate player and a humble athlete. She led Penn Hills with 23 points. She also topped the 1,000-point mark for her career.
The Indians won seven consecutive WPIAL titles from 1986 to 1992 and remains a very strong program, but quite frankly, we just don’t know how strong it is. They’re loaded at the guard position with sophomore Oliver and junior Ely leading the way. But, unlike in the championship years; they are not so stout in the post area.
The Indians have won a PIAA state title—that coming in 1990—Oliver, Ely and company will try to celebrate the 25th Anniversary by winning another state championship.
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