Dawgs defense stifles Sayre

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Once again, the points came in bunches for Tri-Valley.

When the Dawgs cranked up the defensive pressure - which took all of about 54 seconds - the floodgates opened up.

There wasn't much road-weary Sayre could do to stop the onslaught.

Tri-Valley used its swarming and trapping defensive pressure to overwhelm Sayre 52-27 in the first round of the PIAA Class A state playoffs Saturday, March 9 at Martz Hall.

The Dawgs produced 26 points off Redskin turnovers, nearly outscoring the usually offensively efficient bunch with points in transition alone.

"We rely on points off turnovers," Tri-Valley coach Bob Felty Jr. said. "We rely on transition. We rely on our press. We rely on those things. We sort of, I hate to say it, but we kind of live or die by it at this point. We're committed to it, and we're going to try to keep playing that way."

Tri-Valley forced Sayre (21-5) into 20 turnovers and scored in bunches, using runs of 16-0, 10-0 and 14-0 to bury the District 4 runners-up. Those surges helped the Dawgs (23-4) advance to face unbeaten Old Forge, a 60-26 winner over High Point Baptist, in the Wednesday, March 13 second round. The Dawgs versus Old Forge game was scheduled to be played at 6 p.m. at Hazleton High School. (Details of that game were unavailable prior to print production.)

With the Redskins' front court roaming the perimeter instead of trying to post up against Tri-Valley's Tara Nahodil, the 6-foot-4 senior center helped force several turnovers as well.

"We worked a lot on quickness at practice, so I think that helped a lot," Nahodil said. "My girl wasn't really posting me up too much so I had to move outside the lane. I had a chance to get some steals."

Sayre tried to match up man-to-man with the Dawgs, which few teams have attempted this season.

"I have a lot of respect for their coaching staff," Felty said. "Everything I've heard is they play solid man-to-man defense. So I figured they'd come out and try to do that. For the first three or four minutes, they affected our cuts. They affected our screens, and they affected the things we were trying to do offensively."

Once Tri-Valley settled in its half-court offense, Nahodil also dominated in the post.

She finished with 20 points and eight rebounds, including five on the offensive end, in just over three quarters of work.

"I was very pleased with the way Tara played," Felty said. "She missed some easy shots, but this game isn't about making shots. It's about playing the right way.

"To me, I think this is one of Tara's better games this year because she had some offensive rebounds; she worked hard in the post; she's been practicing much better. I just think she's really excited about the end of the season here."

Nahodil scored eight points in the opening quarter to help the Dawgs sprint to a 20-3 edge.

Brittany Smeltz paced Tri-Valley with six of her nine points in the second quarter for a 33-11 halftime lead, then Taylor Troutman tallied six of her 11 in the third, with Nahodil adding eight more for a 51-17 advantage through three quarters.

Mollie Robinson scored her 1,000th career point with 4:06 left in the second quarter on a 3-pointer for Sayre.

The Redskins didn't have many more highlights.

Now, Tri-Valley inches closer to its goal of a state final berth.

"One step closer," Felty said. "As far as I'm concerned, every game is a state championship game because if you lose, you're done. We're just trying to take it one game at a time, and hopefully, we can win them all."

Pine Grove 49

Imhotep Ch. 37

PHILADELPHIA - Patience, energy and a superior performance at the foul line helped Pine Grove earn the 86th PIAA playoff win in program history, beating Imhotep Charter 49-37 in the first round of the PIAA Class AA state tournament March 8 at South Philadelphia High School.

Pine Grove (23-4) was slated to take on Mount Carmel (23-4) on Tuesday, March 12 at Martz Hall, Pottsville, in the PIAA Class AA second round of state playoffs. (Details of that game were unavailable prior to press production.)

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