Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Hempfield, Penn-Trafford Meet in 1-Aaaa Showdown

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Hempfield, Penn-Trafford Meet in 1-Aaaa Showdown

Article excerpt

Aaron Epps might be new to Hempfield Area this season but he is not new to Section 1-AAAA. As coach at Kiski Area, Epps has coached against and scouted both Penn-Trafford and Hempfield.

He knows the similar styles both teams utilize.

Now Epps will be a part of the rivalry first hand Friday when his Spartans (7-1, 3-0) play host to the Warriors (7-0, 3-0) in a critical section showdown.

John Giannikas has coached Penn-Trafford for the past six seasons. He knows all about the closely contested matchups between the two programs in recent history.

During the 2008-09 season Hempfield handled Penn-Trafford by an average of 22 points. Things have been far more competitive and balanced since then.

Three years ago the home teams held court with Hempfield winning, 52-47, and Penn-Trafford winning, 47-42.

Two years ago Penn-Trafford swept the regular-season series but only by a combined three points, winning, 56-55 and 44-42.

Last year the home teams held court again with Hempfield winning, 69-56, and Penn-Trafford winning, 47-40.

"The teams mirror each other," Epps said. "We don't look ahead at all, we try to take it one game at a time but also I am not going to be nave and try to play the game down. The girls know it is a big game. We are going to embrace the fact that it is a big game. Everyone knows it is a big game, obviously we want to win but it is one game and no matter what, we would still have all our goals in place after the game."

This matchup has had major section implications the past two seasons. Penn-Trafford has won the past two section titles, winning 23 of its past 24 section contests with the lone exception being the loss to Hempfield last year. Hempfield has finished in the top three in the section the past four seasons.

"We know each other so well," Giannikas said. "They got kids who can shoot, they play hard, you earn everything you get against them, there is nothing easy. …

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