McMURRAY – For multiple reasons, Peters Township needed to beat Pine-Richland Tuesday night.
The obvious one is that it was a WPIAL playoff game, so a loss would have sent the Indians packing until December. The less obvious, but still quite apparent basis for Peters Township needing to win was because it hadn’t done it in a while.
The Indians whimpered into the postseason, losers of three straight, and ending 2021 on a four-game skid wouldn’t bode well for the future of the program.
Unfortunately for Peters Townshp, that’s exactly what happened.
As usual, Journey Thompson was excellent, scoring a game-high 26 points. The problem was that the rest of the team combined to score just 19. The Rams moved through with a 55-45 win.
“Obviously, you’d like to get balanced scoring,” Coach Bob Miles said. “Journey was our leading scorer all year long. Again, we had some wide open shots underneath that didn’t go. You look at those shots, and take those into consideration, it’s a different ballgame for sure. I don’t know how many bunnies we missed, but I know we missed a bunch.”
Things looked swell for the home team at halftime. The Indians came into the third quarter up 27-21 behind 15 points from Thompson.
By the end of the quarter, Peters [6-9] was down by five.
Pine Richland [8-10] outscored its opponent 21-10 in the period, and held the Indians to just eight points in the final quarter to seal the win and move on.
“We just made some mistakes,” Thompson said. “Turnovers, some missed shots, the rebounds, not boxing out, and you know when they start to add up, then suddenly you end up with a loss.”
Pine Richland didn’t have anybody stand out the way Thompson did, but the Rams made up for it by having the more balanced scoring of the two teams.
Sophie Catalano and Kaili Doctor each scored 14, and Sarah Pifer added an even 10.
Pifer’s three at the end of the third quarter was a turning point, giving Pine Richland a two -possession lead that it didn’t give away in the final 10 minutes.
It’s the end of the most unusual, and in a lot of ways, the most aggravating season in Peters’ history. The Indians had 12 games postponed due to COVID-19.
For Miles, the former Trinity head man who just wrapped up his first season at his new school, the team did well in getting itself in a position to play, which itself was a challenge.
“The season in general was one of the strangest things we’ve ever gone through,” Miles said. “To be interrupted with the pandemic, and with all the other things the kids had to go through not being in school, practices being shut down and going five, six days without being able to practice, I think it was a very difficult season. I think the kids did a great job of staying healthy and staying safe and helping us get as much play as we were able to get.”
“It was definitely hard,” Thompson said. “I think our team definitely shut down the most out of pretty much any other team around here. Which resulted in us not practicing. We didn’t get a lot of games in, which is definitely rough. There was a lot of work. It was a lot of changes. We had a big freshman class, we had a new coach, so it was kind of like a rebuilding year I think more than anything.”
The Rams will continue their season Friday night at Upper St. Clair. All Peters can do is work toward a better ending next year.
With Thompson returning for her senior year, and 10 six freshmen who will become sophomores, the 2021-22 Indians could be significantly improved from this year’s squad.
Also promising is the fact that, if all goes well with the pandemic, Peters’ new gym can finally be filled.
“I’m really excited to see this gym packed,” Thompson said. “It’s a huge gym. We have a lot of seats, and we’ve yet to really see a lot of fans in here. I’m excited to see the momentum we can get going in. How we can improve our team and build things, and what we’re going to be able to do. So I’m excited to see how that goes.”