PREVIEW: 5 local teams start District 5 journeys
When Forbes Road's girls basketball team started this season with only six players, a lot of people probably thought a goal of making the playoffs was overshooting it.
But those six ladies proved everyone wrong. They finished 10-12 to sneak into the eighth seed of the District 5 Class A playoffs. So when the Cardinals travel to play top-seeded Meyersdale (19-4) in the first round on Friday at 7 p.m., don't count them out so easily.
"We know we have the No. 1 seed, but you gotta beat everybody to advance," Forbes Road coach Jeff Gelvin said. "We're going in with an open mind."
Forbes Road is one of five area District 5 teams that advanced to the postseason. The other matchups include:
- Rockwood (8-12) at McConnellsburg (19-3) boys, Thursday, 7
- Conemaugh Township (8-14) at Southern Fulton (18-5) boys, Thursday, 7
- Shanksville (12-10) at Southern Fulton (17-5) girls, Friday, 7
- Johnstown Christian (15-5) at McConnellsburg (17-5) girls, Friday, 7
The Cardinals' offense is currently led by McKenzie Gelvin (17.1 points per game) and Mina Wilt (10.4 ppg).
No. 1 seed - check: McConnellsburg's boys team has made one check mark on its goals list this season.
For the first time since the 1982-83, the Spartans are the No. 1 seed in District 5. The last year McConnellsburg was the top dog in the playoffs was the year current Spartan coach Dane Pollock was born.
"This was definitely a goal going into the season to be No. 1," Pollock said. "It's good to work 22 games to achieve what you set out to in the beginning, and we didn't even know it had been that long. We hope it's big for us, but it's kind of hard to judge."
McConnellsburg can't afford to overlook the 8-12 Rockwook Rockets. Pollock said the teams should match up well size-wise, but the Spartans will have to be wary of a strong inside game. McConnellsburg will see the return of Quintin Miller (7.2 points per game), who missed the last six games of the regular season.
Return to greatness: Southern Fulton's boys team ended with a fine record and were both Sideling Hill League and Inter-County Conference Southern Division champions.
But the Indians head into the postseason riding a two-game skid, and will need to rebound against CT (8-14), which has two players - Clayton Blough (11.4) and Jordan Poznanski (10.3) - averaging in double figures. Southern Fulton has been relying heavily on Dylan Gordon (17.1 ppg) and Trent Rider (15.6).
On the girls side, Southern Fulton is working under first-year coach Meagan Raville, and after bowing out in the District 5 semifinals a year ago, The Indians are looking to make run at the title again. SF appeared in the championship three years in a row from 2012-14 and won it twice.
"I came in here asking a lot, and it's hard to come into a very successful program already and make changes," Raville said. "The girls believed in it, they went with it, and they stepped outside their comfort zone. It hasn't been the easiest road, but it's been a fun journey, and we're excited to see where the next few weeks takes us."
SF has been led all season by Olivia Mottern, who is averaging nearly a double-double, while Celina Merchant (8.9), Lakyn Morton (6.8) and Shaye Smartt (5.1) have all been big point contributors.
Sneaky Spartans: McConnellsburg's girls team has certainly been through some ups and downs this season, but it captured the fourth seed and a home playoff game in the final week of the regular season.
The Spartans host the Blueyjays (15-5), who have two players - Beth Felix and Maddie Sprankle - averaging more than 20 points per game.
But McConnellsburg has Bronwyne Mellott, a junior who should be in the hunt for her 2,000th career point next season. Mellott is averaging 26.0 ppg, and the Spartans have also had recent double-digit performances from Justice Seville and Bridgette Ritchey.
With five area teams in the hunt, the race is definitely on for the District 5 championships.