Brownlee guides KO to victory over Mt. Pleasant
Keystone Oaks (14-8) defeated Mt. Pleasant, 45-39, in a preliminary playoff game at Gateway and advanced to face No. 2 seed Hopewell (19-3) at 8 p.m. Feb. 20 at Cornell in the WPIAL Class AAA girls’ basketball playoffs.
“We have our work cut out for ourselves,” said KO floor boss Nikki Presto after Saturday’s triumph.
Indeed, the Vikings boast Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, who finished second in the WPIAL scoring. During the regular, she tossed in 605 points for a 27.5-point average. A three-sport standout, having played volleyball and hoops on WPIAL championships clubs for Hopewell, as well as running track, Walker-Kimbrough will play basketball next season at the University of Maryland.
The Lady Golden Eagles earned the right to play against the Vikings by eliminating the other Vikings from Mt. Pleasant. Despite a slow start where they fell behind, 15-10, in the first frame and trailed much of the second stanza, KO roared back in the third quarter.
While upping the ante on defense, holding Mt. Pleasant to seven points in each of the second-half frames, the Golden Eagles overcame their 25-21 halftime deficit.
Kayla Brownlee spearheaded the comeback. She finished with a team-high 16 points. Her two, 3-point field goals enabled KO to edge ahead, 35-32, in the third stanza.
Alexis Mercuri also finished in double digits for the Golden Eagles. She fired in 12 points, nine in the first half to help KO keep pace with the Vikings.
Though held under her double-figure average, Maryssa Agurs provided eight points, half in the decisive fourth frame for the Golden Eagles. Jillian Welch accounted for five points while Maryah Agurs and Holly Kendall pitched in a bucket each to complete KO’s scoring.
Alexa Szelong proved unstoppable for the Vikings. She exploded for 25 points. Casey Zelenak scored all 10 of her points in the first half before KO made some key defensive adjustments on the 6-1 senior center.
In other Class AAA girls’ preliminary action, South Fayette trumped Freeport, 61-35, at North Allegheny.
With the win, the Lady Lions advanced to face Central Valley (17-4) at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 20 at Baldwin. Meanwhile, the Yellow Jackets finished 8-13 on the season.
In the victory, Caitlin McLuckie and Shannon Gillespie tossed in 12 points each.
A strong start and a big finish proved the difference for South Fayette. The Lions outscored Freeport, 18-5, in first frame and 13-7 in fourth quarter.