ADAMS TWP — Mars got just what it needed Monday night, in more ways than one.
The Planets outscored Franklin Regional 26-13 over the final 12 minutes in earning a 69-47 Section 2-5A girls basketball victory at home.
Mars (12-5, 6-4) had dropped its two previous section contests.
The Planets have yet to clinch a WPIAL playoff berth. When asked what her team needs to do to close the regular season on a high note and make a postseason run, Coach Dana Petruska was quick with her response.
“Play as a team, like we did tonight,” she said. “The girls always keep (battling), but we haven't played as a team much this season.”
With 4:22 remaining in the third quarter, the Panthers were still within reach, trailing 43-34. But their outside shooting, which had sparked the team up until that point, began to dry up.
Over the final 12 minutes of the game, Franklin attempted 12 shots from beyond the arc and made just two.
Meanwhile, Mars received a conventional 3-point play from Ava Black and clutch shots from Bella Pelaia and Olivia Donnelly. The result was a 58-40 edge by the end of the third quarter.
“We tried to press to get back into the game and there were times we didn't get back on defense,” said Panthers' coach Anthony Kobus. “Mars made some shots, got a lot of layups.”
The Panthers (5-11, 2-7) had a much better showing in the first half than when the teams met Jan. 2 in Murrysville. In that game, Mars led at the break 34-16 and went on to win 52-32.
Angel Kelly was the catalyst for the Panthers in the rematch. She sank four of her team's six treys in the first two periods as the Panthers' deficit at the half was just 33-27.
“We moved the ball a lot better tonight,” said Kobus. “Angel, she's been shooting well from the outside all year.
“We had two of our top players out tonight, one due to illness and one because of a family situation,” he added. “We're a very young team and all of the girls who were on the court tonight are coming back next year.”
Kelly led the Panthers with 18 points.
Black's 20 points paced Mars. Pelaia scored 19 and Alek Johnson countered Franklin's outside shooting with four treys of her own and finished with 14 points.
“Our halfcourt offense was really good at times tonight,” said Petruska. “We probably have 10 man offenses, maybe more. We'll run one and run it well and then the players will revert back to something else. The girls get comfortable with an offense and it's like they're afraid to let it go.”
The Planets' four section defeats have come by a combined 14 points.
“It's not like we've gotten blown out,” Petruska added. “Sometimes, the ball just doesn't bounce your way.”
Mars plays a non-section game at Knoch Tuesday.
FRANKLIN REGIONAL 47
Brook Schirmer 4 0-0 9, Sarah Penrod 1 2-2 5, Angel Kelly 6 0-0 18, Maria Brush 4 1-3 10, Kathryn Nardo 1 1-2 3, Lexe Patberg 1 0-0 2, Sofia Yaniga 0 0-0 0, Sidney Breitkreutz 0 0-0 0. Totals: 17 4-7 47.
Ava Black 7 4-6 20, Kaitlyn Pelaia 2 0-0 4, Alek Johnson 4 2-2 14, Bella Pelaia 8 3-4 19, Madeleine Horvath 1 2-2 4, Olivia Donnelly 3 1-1 8, Allie Rice 0 0-2 0, Carly Kern 0 0-2 0, Kylee Fredericks 0 0-0 0, Lauren Atwell 0 0-0 0, Megan Yanief 0 0-0 0, Alexa McDole 0 0-0 0. Totals: 25 12-19 69.
Franklin Reg. 11 16 13 7 — 47
Mars13 20 25 11 — 69
3-point goals: Franklin Regional 9 (Kelly 6, Schirmer, Penrod, Brush); Mars 7 (Johnson 4, Black 2, Donnelly).
Tuesday: Mars at Knoch