Serra Catholic's Jessica Manfredi looks to pass around Vincentian's Brenna Wise.
Vincentian teammates celebrate after beating Serra Catholic for the Class A girls title.
By Joe Koch Tri-State Sports & News Service
Everyone knew Vincentian Academy's Brenna Wise was going to get her share of points and rebounds in the WPIAL Class A girls basketball championship game Saturday at Palumbo Center.
And the 6-foot-1 sophomore guard/forward, who averaged 23.2 points a game in the regular season, did just that with 18 points and 20 rebounds as the Royals held off a late Serra surge to capture a 53-46 victory for their second consecutive WPIAL championship and third in four years under coach Ron Moncrief.
All that was expected. What was surprising, though, was the contribution of two freshmen reserves. Kiersten Elliott, a 5-10 guard/forward, went 6 for 6 from the field, including the Royals' only 3-point field goal, to score 13 points. Maia Joiner, a 5-5 guard, added 12.
The win lifted Vincentian's record to 25-1, and it was the second time the Royals had beaten the Eagles this season.
Vincentian won the title game of Serra's tipoff tournament, 67-59, against the Eagles in December. The victory also represented a clean sweep for the McKnight Road school as the Royals' boys team won the WPIAL Class A boys title with an 86-74 victory Friday night against Clairton.
Moncrief wasn't shocked by the contributions from the freshmen.
He'd seen similar things a year ago when Wise led the Royals to the 2012 WPIAL Class A championship.
"We knew the focus would be on [Wise]," he said. "But we needed other players to step up. We have faith in them, even though they are freshmen."
Wise wasn't surprised by the ninth-graders' performance, either.
"They tore it up and brought their 'A' game," she said about Elliott and Joiner. "We knew we'd need an 'A' game from everyone to win."
Moncrief said both freshmen were spot starters this season. "They had some experience," he said.
Serra (23-3) took a 6-0 lead in the first quarter on a short jumper by Leslie Hoye and two baskets by Katie Sieg, the Eagles' leading scorer with 13 points. Older sister Megan Sieg added 12 points.
But the Royals regained their composure and went on a 9-0 run with Elliott's 3-point basket tying the score at 7-7 and a Wise steal and layup with 2:11 in the first quarter giving Vincentian its first lead.
The Royals held a single-digit lead the rest of the first half, but the Eagles tied it, 26-26, on a fullcourt drive by Megan Sieg, then took a 28-26 lead on a 10-foot jumper by Katie Sieg with 4:03 left in the third quarter.
That, however, would be the last time the Eagles would be in the lead as Wise and Joiner accounted for all the points in a 10-0 Royals run that closed out the third quarter with Vincentian holding onto a 36-28 advantage.