Freeport girls top Burrell for 5th straight victory

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Thursday, December 20, 2018 | 11:15 PM


After a loss in its season opener, the Freeport girls basketball team embarked on a winning streak that continued Thursday at Burrell.

The Yellowjackets averaged 71 points over the first four games of the victory stretch.

Freeport continued its early-season scoring success with 32 first-quarter points against the Bucs en route to a 76-44 Section 1-4A victory, its fifth in a row.

“We really wanted to come out and set the tone,” said Freeport coach Fred Soilis, whose team forced 11 turnovers and limited Burrell to seven points through the first eight minutes of play.

“We’ve been doing that pretty much all year, except for the first game (against West Greene). We can score, but we tell the girls that defense is going to win games, and we had that tonight, too.”

The Yellowjackets’ season-best in the first quarter is the 35 reached in their 74-41 win over Albert Gallatin at the Southmoreland tournament Dec. 8.

Thursday’s triumph put Freeport at 3-0 in the section and 5-1 overall. The Yellowjackets kept pace with North Catholic (5-0, 3-0) atop the standings.

“They played quick, and we played slow,” Burrell coach Joel Ceraso said concerning the first-quarter outcome.

“They had a different gear that we couldn’t match early. I think we settled in after that. Freeport plays so well as a team. They share the ball, they make crisp passes, they don’t make mistakes, they didn’t turn the ball over, and they were aggressive. We were doing the opposite, and they took advantage.”

Burrell fell to 2-4 overall and 1-2 in section play. The Bucs had hoped to keep up momentum built after their 68-64 section victory over Greensburg Salem on Monday.

But the Yellowjackets, behind a game-best 31 from junior guard Madeline Clark, 20 from senior guard/forward Sidney Shemanski, 12 from senior forward Haley Graham and 10 from junior guard Samantha Clark, denied the Bucs a second-straight win.

“Our press was really working against them, and that helped our offense get going,” Madeline Clark said. “We were able to be unselfish and find open shots for each other.”

Freeport’s point total Thursday came without one of its leading scorers, junior guard Harley Holloway, in the lineup.

Soilis said Holloway has been battling through a knee issue. He said she should be back for Freeport’s games next week at the West Shamokin tournament.

One game after tallying 30 points in the victory over Greensburg Salem, senior guard/forward Kaylen Sharrow recorded a team-best 22 to go along with 16 rebounds.

She also blocked seven Freeport shots.

The Burrell faithful held their collective breaths at the 2:59 mark of the third quarter when Sharrow collided with Freeport’s Samantha Clark and crashed to the floor.

She was down for a couple of minutes as the trainer checked her right knee, but she was able to leave the court under her own power. She returned to the court with no issue at the start of the fourth quarter.

“Kaylen is the heartbeat of what we do, and I thought, for her and for the team, ‘Please don’t let this be something serious,’ ” Ceraso said. “I was relieved to see she was OK. I almost didn’t want to put her back in the game. But she told me she was ready. She’s such a gamer.”

Ally Fisher followed up her 20-point effort against Greensburg Salem with 16 points. Twelve of the 16 came on four 3-pointers.

Burrell had cut a 26-point halftime deficit down to 20 at the 5:01 mark of the third quarter with a 9-3 run, but the Bucs were held off the scoreboard the rest of the frame as Freeport built the advantage back to 30 heading to the fourth.

“We just want to keep playing well, one game at a time,” Soilis said.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at mlove@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MLove_Trib.

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