By Pete Chiodo
Morghan Egli said no.
Farrell tried to clear the boards, she said no. Farrell tried to score, she said no. Farrell tried to steal away a berth in the District 10 Class A championship game from Cochranton, and the Cardinals’ sophomore forward said no.
All those negatives combined for a massive positive for the Lady Redbirds, as Egli’s 10-point, 19-rebound, 12-block triple-double highlighted Coch-ranton’s 47-46 come-from-behind victory over Farrell in a Class A semifinal thriller held Tuesday night at Sharon High School.
“I did?” asked Egli when she was informed that she recorded a triple-double in the game. “Holy cow!”
Egli notched seven of those blocks, had a team-high six points and notched one crucial assist in a pivotal fourth quarter, which saw the Cardinals come back from a 46-37 deficit with two minutes to play to pull out the win.
“I was just really trying to encourage the team to keep their spirits up and keep pushing,” said Egli. “I knew we could do it.”
Farrell had just enjoyed a nine-point scoring run to break a 37-37 tie and go ahead 46-37 with around two minutes to go. That’s when the Cardinals knew they had to dig deep or their season was over.
“We had that timeout, and we just decided there was no reason to quit,” said Cardinals head coach Gary Egli. “We just needed to go for it and see what happened and quit being so worked up about it and so uptight about it. I think they just decided, ‘Hey, we’ve gotta go,’ and let it happen.”
A few key events transpired for Cochranton over the next couple minutes. One, the Cardinals defense got tough, forcing five turnovers down the stretch by getting in the Steelers’ passing lanes and denying.
“To help us out, I think Farrell panicked just a little bit,” said coach Egli. “They gave us a couple turnovers.”
Two, Cochranton finally had some shots fall. After a decent first quarter, which they won 15-8, the Cardinals went cold. Pervasive foul trouble didn’t help. They had two starters on the bench with two fouls early in the first quarter, and a third starter sitting early in the second quarter. And after that it didn’t seem like the Cards could find a rhythm offensively.
But down that final stretch, Cochranton finally started hitting with some consistency. The ’Birds were 6-for-8 from the foul line in the final two minutes. Abby Clulow hit 4 of 5 during the run.
Plus, Morghan Egli knocked down a layup. And Kassidy Dickson dropped in another (assisted by Egli) with 12 seconds remaining, which finally put Cochranton in front 47-46. The Cards had scored 10 straight.
“I knew we could do it,” Morghan Egli said. “I was just hoping that we would pull together and make it happen.
Last, but certainly not least, was Morghan Egli’s defensive effort at the end of the game. It seemed that every time Farrell got that ball into its zone, they would streak to the basket looking to score, but Egli would knock it away. She turned into a force field around that hoop — Swat! Swat! Swat!
“Morghan told us in one of the time outs that she was getting mad,” said Gary Egli. “She was tired of getting hit. So, she did something about it.”
After Dickson’s go-ahead bucket, Farrell still had time to score. It marched down the court. Farrell’s McKayla Washington worked towards the hoop and put up a shot — Swat! Egli said no. The two teams struggled for the rebound. Dickson ended up with it and she was fouled with two seconds remaining.
Dickson missed the front end of the 1-and-1. But Farrell didn’t have enough time to get off a good shot.
“They really stuck together,” said coach Egli. “Every time out, halftime, they kept picking each other up. No matter who was upset or who was struggling, they just all stuck together Wednesday.”
Following Egli’s effort was Madison Bernarding with 13 points and seven steals. Dickson added 11 points. Clulow finished with seven.
For Farrell, Nazhia Polk came off the bench and led her team with 16 points. Washington followed with 10.
The Steelers end their season with a record of 12-13.
Cochranton, now 16-8, advances to the D-10 championship game where it will face Kennedy Catholic, a 68-28 winner over Commodore Perry in yesterday’s other semifinal.
A time and location for the game will be announced later.