Struggling to find her shooting stroke during the first three games of the playoffs, Bishop Canevin's Johnie Olkosky spent extra time in the gym this week working with her coaches to fix a flaw.
In the WPIAL Class AA girls basketball championship Friday, she was nearly flawless.
Olkosky tied a WPIAL girls championship game record with seven 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 26 points to help No. 2 Bishop Canevin win its first WPIAL title, 56-47, against two-time defending champion and top seed Seton-LaSalle at Palumbo Center.
Bishop Canevin 56, Seton-LaSalle 47
The Bishop Canevin girl's basketball team beats Seton-LaSalle for the WPIAL Class AA title. (Video by Kalea Hall; 03/01/2013)
"It means so much," Olkosky said. "We did it for our coach [Tim Joyce]. He just had his 200th win, and this is his first WPIAL title. It's all of our first WPIAL titles, so it's great."
The Crusaders (22-4) played in the WPIAL final for the first time last season, but lost to the Rebels, 73-60.
That's been a common theme the past three seasons. Seton-LaSalle (24-2) entered the Friday game on an eight-game winning streak against Section 4-AA foe Bishop Canevin, including wins by 31 and eight points this season. In both those victories, the Rebels led by at least 14 points in the first quarter.
But Olkosky made sure that didn't happen this time, hitting three 3-pointers in the first 5:19 to help the Crusaders lead by 10 after one quarter.
"After I made that first one, I thought this was going to be my game; that I was going to light it up," Olkosky said. "So I just kept shooting them."
Bishop Canevin also did a good job of limiting easy baskets for Seton-LaSalle.
After turning it over 28 times in the WPIAL final last season, the Crusaders had just seven first-half turnovers and 13 for the game. Having to play in the half-court, Seton-LaSalle struggled with its shooting, hitting just 6 of 16 shots in the first 16 minutes, and trailed, 28-22, at halftime.
"We didn't give them transition baskets; we didn't turn the ball over," Joyce said. "I think that was a big key there."
The Crusaders were able to widen their lead in the third quarter by shooting a perfect 7 of 7 from the field and 3 of 3 from the free-throw line.
Olkosky was 3 of 3 on 3-pointers in the quarter and finished the game 7 of 9 from 3-point range, tying Carlynton's Kristen Bonner for the championship-game record.
Bishop Canevin pushed its lead to as many as 17, but Seton-LaSalle rallied behind senior Angela Heintz, who scored six points to spark a 12-0 run in the fourth quarter that closed the gap to five, 50-45, with 1:36 left.
The Rebels only scored one basket the rest of the way, however, as their 66-game winning streak against WPIAL opponents ended.
The Rebels still have a chance to defend their PIAA title, starting Friday against the District 9 second-place finisher.
"I'd rather be known as the best in the state than the best in the district," Seton-LaSalle coach John Ashaolu said. "That's always been our goal and is still our goal. We'll still likely get to face Bishop Canevin in the state tournament and we'll see what happens then."
Heintz and Naje Gibson led the Rebels with 16 points apiece.
Carly Forse had 14 points and nine rebounds for the Crusaders, who will take on the District 6 third-place finisher Friday in the PIAA first round.
First Published March 2, 2013 5:00 AM