By Lisa Byers
January 15, 2013 7:00 a.m. MEADVILLE —
Meadville was making strides. It went from a struggling offensive team to putting up nearly 70 points on Titusville and moving to an even 1-1 in Region 5 just two weeks ago.
But the Lady Bulldogs’ recent schedule has been unkind.
On Thursday, Meadville suffered a 64-29 loss to Slippery Rock, which just one week earlier took Franklin, one of the best Class AAA teams in the state, to overtime.
On Monday, it was Hickory’s turn.
The Hornets moved into a tie for second place in Region 5 last night with a 57-16 win over the Bulldogs at the House of Thrills. Hickory is now 10-1 overall and 3-1 in the region — tied with Grove City, which fell to 9-4 overall and 3-1 in Region 5 with its 81-46 loss to Franklin on Monday.
Meadville’s week ends with a home game on Thursday against the Knights, who are now 10-1 overall and 5-0 in Region 5.
“This region is tough,” Meadville coach Casey Heller said, “especially for a group of girls that haven’t had a ton of experience. I guess we just go into every game at this point hoping we’re going to get better.”
And the Bulldogs did show signs of improvement throughout its contest with the Hornets. But in the early going, it was a rough one.
The Hornets took control early, jumping out to a 9-0 lead. Meadville broke the run with 4:42 to play in the first quarter on a steal and fastbreak layup by Shauntia Vactor-Pope, but Hickory finished off the quarter with a 9-2 run to take an 18-4 advantage.
Meadville didn’t score again until the four-and-a-half minute mark of the second quarter. It went into halftime down 33-6.
The Bulldogs had 20 turnovers in the first half. Four of those were on steals by Nikki Arbanas, who had 14 points at the half.
“I think we are still panicking a lot when there is a lot of pressure,” Heller said. “It causes a lot of confusion for us and we aren’t able to run our offense. Hopefully at some point we’re going to get better at that.”
Meadville did show some improvement in the second half. The ’Dogs cut down on the turnovers and were able to get the ball inside to Cadi McCoy, who finished the quarter with four points.
In the fourth quarter, freshman Kiashia Newsome scored six points. Two of those were on coast-to-coast layups.
The damage was just too much for the Bulldogs to overcome.
Arbanas finished the game with 27 points and seven steals. Holly Grober added 13 points and Nicole Lacava tallied nine. Hickory outrebounded the Bulldogs 25-16.
Meadville, which shot just 2 of 18 from the floor in the first half and 8 of 35 (22.9 percent) for the game, was led by McCoy and Newsome’s six points each. McCoy also had a team-best seven rebounds.