ST. CLAIRSVILLE - The Edison girls' basketball team used a dominant individual effort by Kayla Prokopakis sandwiched between two spans of great team play to hold off a tough Minerva team 49-44 in Ohio Division II Sectional action at Ohio University Eastern.
With the victory, the Wildcats advance to the next round of the sectional to face Carrollton, 82-42 winners against East Liverpool, Friday at 8 p.m. at OUE.
"We played them first game of the season and it was a four-point game," Edison coach Tony Kovalesky said of Minerva. "They're a scrappy team. All the credit to them.
"They wanted to be in this game Friday against Carrollton and our girls just toughened up down the road and it paid off."
The Lions jumped out to an early lead, scoring the game's first five points. Edison answered with a 10-2 run and ultimately held a 16-14 advantage after the game's first 8 minutes. Kristin Prokopakis and Molly McCoy led the Wildcats' offensive charge with six points each. Lauren Haynam scored six as well for Minerva, knocking down two from three-point range.
Then it was time for Kayla Prokopakis to put the Wildcats on her back for the next two quarters as she scored 19 straight points for the Wildcats.
Despite shooting woes that saw the Wildcats hit only one shot from the field in the second quarter, they held onto a scant 23-22 lead at halftime. Kayla Prokopakis scored all seven in the quarter, including Edison's lone shot from the field, a 3-pointer with 2:21 left in the half. She also went 4-for-4 from the free-throw line. The Lions struggled in the quarter as well, hitting only two shots from the field.
Kayla Prokopakis proceeded to score the the first 12 points of the third quarter for her team. It was not until, with 1:06 remaining in the stanza, that Kristin Prokopakis turned a steal into a behind the back pass to Savannah Snyder for a fastbreak layup and a 37-31 Wildcats advantage that held going into the final quarter. Again Minerva found difficulty scoring as it totaled just nine points.
"I kept on looking up and I'm like 'I think Kayla's the only one who's scoring any points here'," Kovalesky said. "The other ones have been stuck on six for a long time and the coaches agreed. I felt as long as she can keep carrying us down there we'll have to ride her coat tails until somebody else decides to step up and help her out.
"We finally did on the free-throw line."
The fourth quarter looked to be more of the same for Edison as Kayla Prokopakis scored the first basket to give her team a 39-31 with 7:14 remaining to make it 21 of the last 23 Edison points she scored.
From there it was time for her teammates to make themselves known as she scored only two more the rest of the way, both from the foul line, to finish with a game-high 23 points.
Minerva scrapped until, with 1:04 remaining, it cut the lead to two at 45-43. On the ensuing possession, the Lions forced a turnover and pushed the fast break, but McCoy hustled back defensively and made a great play to get a steal and call an Edison timeout to counter the threat. After two missed Edison free throws, Minerva was again presented a chance to tie, but Snyder came up with a big block and then was fouled. She stepped to the line and knocked down both shots to make it a two possession game at 47-43 with 30.7 seconds left. A Lions' charity toss cut their deficit back to one possession at 47-44 with 17 seconds left, but Kristin Prokopakis ended the drama with 7.5 seconds left, knocking down two free throws to push the score to the final of 49-44.
Kristin Prokopakis joined her sister in double-digits with 10 on the night. Savannah Snyder contributed with eight points.
"I said if we can get our three seniors on the same page scoring in double figures, and they were close, that's what I thought would get us (Monday night's) victory," Kovalesky said.
Lorin Clark led Minerva with 13 points.
Kovalesky and his Wildcats now prepare for their matchup with Carrollton.