So. Fulton boys, Spartan girls return to UPJ
Just like last year, the basketball teams of McConnellsburg and Southern Fulton are returning to the University of Pitt-Johnstown for the District 5 Championships.
But unlike last year, they won't be playing each other and they'll both have a chance to win.
On Friday, it'll be a Fulton County doubleheader at UPJ as the Lady Spartans take on Northern Bedford in the Class 2A final at 6 p.m., followed by a Southern Fulton rematch with Shanksville-Stoneycreek in the 1A boys championship at 8 p.m.
Both area squads on Friday face the familiar, and both are hungry for a crown.
Southern Fulton (19-4) is the District 5 1A defending champion. This year, the Indians will have to go through the Vikings (23-1), who beat them 52-37 earlier this season. The Indians would also be eyeing a three-peat, if it weren't for the Vikings taking the championship in 2015.
"We've probably played them seven or eight times between the summer, fall and this season, and we've probably split the games," SF coach Kent Hendershot said. "We know we can beat them, but there is no room for error. We have to play well because it's not a game we can win if we don't play well."
Averaging more than 60 points per game, Shanksville is well-rounded with three strong shooting guards. On the flip side, the Vikings allow fewer than 40 points against.
"They have a three-guard tandem that is tough to stop, and they're good on offense and defense," Hendershot said. "They are a really, really good defensive team. We have to find ways to score the basketball and shoot well."
SF is led by Dylan Gordon, who averages 20.0 ppg and scored 29 of the Indians' 40 in last year's district championship win. Branden Lynch, Carl Potter, Chase Varner and Gabe Stotler have also been strong contributors, both offensively and defensively.
As for the McConnellsburg girls, they have no interest in revisiting the feeling after last year's title loss. The Spartans (15-7) have moved up to 2A this year, and although Northern Bedford (14-10) isn't necessarily the draw they wanted, they know a victory is in sight.
"I kept reminding them this week about their sad faces when we had our district runner-up medals on our necks," McConnellsburg coach Brent Seville said. "We want happy faces this season, and what's going to be key this year is the girls were there, they know what it's like, and they're so hungry for that medal."
McConnellsburg returns most of its pieces from last season, including reigning P.O. Player of the Year Bronwyne Mellott, who is averaging 26.5 ppg and is just 25 points from the all-time school scoring record. The Spartans also gained the valuable asset of McKenzie Gelvin, who averages 17.0 ppg.
"It might be a little rough in the beginning, but once the game settles in, I think she'll be all right," Seville said. "She's been on the big stage in so many different sports, so I don't think it's going to bother her too much."
Seville also said Justice Seville, who scored 15 against North Star in the semifinals, Kellyn Perry and freshman Katelyn Truax could be key factors.
After defeating the Panthers in the third game of the regular season, McConnellsburg lost to Northern Bedford, 56-52 in the second of two meetings. Sydney Snyder (17.6 ppg), Emma Eckenroad (11.3) and Peyton Leidy (10.4) are all averaging double figures for the Panthers.