The most important thing for a team to do in the playoffs is win.
But it certainly doesn't hurt when you get a little help from your competition. The No. 2-seeded Southern Fulton (18-5) caught a break in the District 5 Class A girls basketball playoffs when No. 6 Berlin (10-9) upset 3-seeded Shade. The Indians are now the clear favorite when they travel to Everett to play the Mountaineers in the semifinals at 7 on Wednesday.
In the other area semifinal, No. 4 McConnellsburg (16-7) heads to Chestnut Ridge to play No. 1 Meyersdale (20-4).
SF also benefited from Berlin's victory because now it is now up against a familiar opponent. Although it now seems like many moons ago, the Indians defeated Berlin, 48-36, in the first game of the season.
"I think we are an entirely different team than we were the first game of the season," SF coach Meagan Raville said. "We were only starting to learn man-to-man defense, and we have really gotten a lot better on those principles. We're finally clicking and getting that team chemistry. I think we feel a lot better going into this game than we did the first game of the season."
Size-wise, the Indians should have the advantage, but according to Raville, Berlin has at least three players that could threaten double figures. For SF, Olivia Mottern has led the way offensively all season. She is averaging 19.9 points per game and has been a force on the boards. Shaye Smartt and Celina Merchant have both been hot lately, each producing double-digit performances in the last two games.
"A lot of other teammates have been stepping up and filling those scoring roles, which Olivia needs," Raville said. "Shaye has really taken off offensively, and she's been looking to drive and dish more. Celina is driving more, too, and Lakyn (Morton) has been finishing around the basket. We're definitely clicking offensively."
Like Southern Fulton, the Spartans have found a nice supporting cast to back sharpshooter Bronwyne Mellott, who is averaging more than 26 ppg.
"Bridgette Ritchey has really come on strong the last three quarters of the season," McConnellsburg coach Brent Seville said. "Justice Seville has some really good games here and there. Alexis Mellott, too. I can't say enough about all of them. With other girls stepping up, I think it's gonna be difficult to key in on Bronwyne because the other girls are just as much of a threat."
But like McConnellsburg, Meyersdale doesn't have one strong standout. The Red Raiders do not have any player averaging in double figures, but as a team, they score 52.7 ppg. Katie Kretchman, Katie Bolden and Erika Ritchey are all scoring more than eight ppg, and a handful of others are in the four- or five-point range.
"There's not really anybody that you can key in," Seville said. "They have about nine kids they usually play, so that will be the biggest thing, because we've been using about six or seven girls. They can bring in fresh legs, but I think our kids are conditioned enough where we'll be able to compete."
Indians-Mountaineers at a glance
Game data: Southern Fulton vs. Berlin ... Wednesday, at Everett, 7 ... District 5 Class A girls basketball semifinal.
Media: Follow @EdGotwalsPO on Twitter for live updates.
Teams: The No. 2-seeded Indians (18-5) defeated Shanksville, 47-36, in the quarterfinals ... No. 6 Berlin (10-9) is coming off an upset of Shade, 47-34.
P.O. pick: Southern Fulton by 8.
Red Raiders-Spartans at a glance
Game data: Meyersdale vs. McConnellsburg ... Wednesday, at Chestnut Ridge, 7 ... District 5 Class A girls basketball semifinal
Media: Follow @LindseySquints on Twitter for live updates.
Teams: Meyerdale is the No. 1 seed in the district and is 20-4 for the season ... The Spartans (16-7) had a 69-48 victory over Johnstown Christian to start the postseason.
P.O. pick: Raiders by 3.