Sebald to settle old score

Wednesday night’s women’s basketball game between Gannon and Mercyhurst universities may not have the same kind of hype surrounding it as the so-called “Harbaugh Bowl” that will take place Feb. 3. But don’t say that it doesn’t pit long-time confidants — and rivals — against each other in same way Super Bowl XLVII does.

Especially not to Gannon’s Mollie Sebald, who will be able to look down the Hammermill Center bench to see her best friend from home — wearing white and Kelly green.

Down the sideline, Sebald will see Mercyhurst’s Taylor Krusinski, with whom she played and attended classes for three years at Holy Name High School in Parma, Ohio.

“It’s weird, it’s definitely weird,” Sebald said. “She goes from someone you trust and now she’s the enemy.”

Wednesday night’s game will represent the first time Sebald, a sophomore, and Krusinski, a freshman, will be on opposite ends of the scorer’s table.

And although this may be a first, it won’t be the first time Sebald and Krusinski compete against each other.

“We grew up hating each other at first but we ended up playing together and becoming best friends, rides home together, everything,” Sebald said. “We’re both really competitive and that’s why we butted heads in the beginning.”

But it was the same killer instinct that made them friends and leaders of the team.

“Just playing together and getting to know each other and realizing that we’re more similar than different,” she said. “Pretty much (on the team) everything ran through me and her.”

Sebald and Krusinski maintain a close friendship, meeting up with each other almost every week, according to Sebald.

Krusinski has had limited minutes in 10 games this season for a Mercyhurst team that is just 5-10, but will be looking knock off a top-10 team just as it did last February when it ended Edinboro University’s run at an undefeated season.

Gannon coach Cleve Wright said his 10th-ranked Knights (16-2 overall, 10-1 PSAC) must be alert for the Lakers Wednesday.

“I think you always have to be ready for a rivalry game,” he said. “You’ve got to make sure you stay focused and stay to your game plan.”

Recently, a large part of that  plan has meant Gannon receiving tremendous production from itsunderclassmen.

Gannon’s group of five sophomore accounts for more than 60 percent of the Knights’ offense and includes three players who average more than 10 points per game: guard Brittany Batts (12.8), forward Nettie Blake (10.6) and Sebald (10.1).

The production even prompted Wright to dub them the “oldest sophomore class in the league” following the Knights’ 66-50 win over West Chester University on Jan. 12.

But there’s room for improvement, he said.

“When I said that they were the oldest sophomores in the league, I said ‘because you’re the oldest sophomores, then you need to be more wise,’” Wright said. “That’s something that we need to use to our advantage.”

Gannon’s lone conference defeat, a 65-52 loss at Edinboro last Wednesday, dropped the Knights to No. 10 in Tuesday’s USA Today Coaches poll, but Wright maintains the rankings have no bearing on him or his team.

“I haven’t talked about it at all,” he said.

“Rankings are opinion; they don’t mean anything. They’re fun for the media, they’re fun for sports information, they’re fun to read about, but in reality, they’re more based on reputation, not that that’s a bad thing. But they play the games for a reason and you can’t rely on a ranking to win you anything because it’s not going to.”

Likewise, Sebald won’t be focused on rankings; she has a score to settle.

“We have to hate each other two days a year. The other days we can be friends.”

 

JOE CUNEO

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