Killinger, Blacklick Valley girls rout Turkeyfoot Valley for 1st WestPAC title

Feb. 18—When asked if either surpassing 1,000 career points or winning the program's first WestPAC championship produced a better feeling, Blacklick Valley senior Kaydence Killinger chose the latter option.

Saturday afternoon's 51-21 victory over Turkeyfoot Valley at the Pitt-Johnstown Sports Center gave the Blacklick Valley girls basketball team its first title of any kind, as Killinger surpassed the millennium mark late in the first quarter in front of a packed crowd.

"This is a feeling I wish everybody could experience," Killinger said. "It's something unforgettable, but, honestly, reaching the WestPAC championship is something I've wanted since my freshman year. I really wanted this year on a banner."

Known by Blacklick Valley coaches as being a team-first player that has worked her way up the ranks in her four years with the Vikings, Killinger's upperclassman leadership has helped bring the squad to a new level that includes the program's single-season wins record, which is still increasing.

Though Saturday was Blacklick Valley's first appearance in a championship game, the Vikings played like seasoned veterans on the big stage, putting in a defensive effort that forced 34 Turkeyfoot Valley turnovers.

The Vikings improved to 22-1 and will ride a 13-game winning streak into Monday's District 6 Class 1A quarterfinal against Bishop Carroll Catholic.

"It's so special," Blacklick Valley coach Rich Price said. "It's such a special group of kids. They really deserved this, and I'm so happy they got to experience it. We won it with defense. That's what I preach every day at practice, and as far as that goes, I'm very proud of their effort today.

"As for Kaydence, it couldn't have been scripted any better. She's worked so hard. To get it here in front of this crowd, it's definitely amazing."

Going into Saturday, Killinger needed just four points to reach 1,000.

Killinger knocked down two free throws at the 6:07 mark of the first quarter. Just over two minutes later following a defensive rebound by Turkeyfoot Valley, Killinger recorded a steal and converted a contested layup to hit the mark with 3:55 left in the first.

She became the ninth player in program history to surpass 1,000 points. Teammate Kristin Szymusiak reached the milestone in a win over Purchase Line three weeks ago.

"I was a little nervous, but I knew it was doable," Killinger said. "I worked hard in the other games to set myself up for this. With my family being here, too, it made the whole experience so much better."

Killinger matched teammate Riley Hoover with a game-high 12 points, with Hoover's coming on four 3-pointers. Freshman Mackenzie Bardell knocked down three shots from long range for nine points.

As a team, Blacklick Valley made nine treys, including four in the first quarter that helped the Vikings build a 16-1 lead after one frame.

The Vikings then built a 31-7 advantage at the half before opening the third with nine straight points to put the running clock into effect.

"With this being our last chance, we wanted to go out with a bang," said Vikings senior Tressa Fatula. "We wanted to leave our mark. We've been preparing for weeks for this stretch. We're ready to keep winning and move onto the state playoffs."

Defensively, the Vikings held the Rams (11-12) to eight total field goals. Turkeyfoot Valley tallied just one point in both the first and third quarters before claiming a 13-9 scoring edge over the Vikings in the fourth.

Saturday was also Turkeyfoot Valley's first appearance in the WestPAC title game. The Rams will be the No. 5 seed in the upcoming District 5 Class 1A playoffs on Friday.

"Overall, the girls played the best they could play," Turkeyfoot Valley coach Matt Younkin said. "Maybe a little bit was nerves, but we got flustered by their pressure defense. Coming back from that many turnovers is extremely difficult to do. We're going to work in practice and aim to get better."

Blacklick Valley is the No. 4 seed in the District 6 Class 1A bracket. The Vikings will have a quick turnaround before hosting No. 5 Bishop Carroll on Monday night.

"We've got to clean some things up for Monday, but I like where we're at." Price said. "These guys are going to enjoy this for 24 hours, then we're going to go back to work. We're going to show up Monday and play our butts off."