East/South Xtra: A precise balancing act paying off for Serra

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The numbers speak for themselves.

The Serra Catholic High School girls basketball team is averaging 70.5 points per game.

It has scored 69 against Monessen and Winchester Thurston, 70 against Wilkinsburg and Jefferson-Morgan. It scored 72 against Quigley Catholic and 74 against Clairton. The Eagles poured in 80 against Allderdice and 91 at Geibel Catholic.

They are the top scoring girls team in Class A and the third highest in the WPIAL.

Just don't expect to see any Eagles on the WPIAL individual scoring list. Coach Bill Cleary has one of the most balanced scoring teams in the area and it is showing in the standings where Serra is 10-1 overall, 4-0 in Class A Section 4 and ranked No. 2 in Class A by the Post-Gazette.

Junior guard Megan Sieg leads the team with a 14-points-per-game average. Her younger sister, sophomore guard Katie, averages 12 points per game. Junior guard Leslie Hoye is scoring 11, junior center Nicole Pero is scoring 10 and senior guard Jessie Manfredi is scoring seven points per game.

"Everybody understands their role," Cleary said. "It is all about the way they distribute the ball. They all make that extra pass, they are a very unselfish group. The score on the board means more to them than what they have individually and we hope we can continue to stay that way."

Manfredi leads the team averaging seven assists per game. Hoye and Pero average seven rebounds per game. The Sieg sisters, Manfredi and Pero are all returning starters. Hoye is a new starter in the lineup.

Cleary has been able to go deep to his bench, too, calling upon players such as senior forward Lindsay Muschar, junior guard Lauren Czerwien, junior guard Danielle Dindak, senior forward Kayla Webster and senior guard Brooke McCallister.

With the way Serra plays offense, there are plenty of scoring opportunities to go around.

"Our style of play probably lends itself to all this scoring," Cleary said. "We like to play an up-tempo game. We can also get down and run the half court. Our team shoots the ball pretty well. We have excellent shot selection and our up-tempo play, I would say that is what is behind the success."

The Eagles are shooting better than 44 percent from the field as a team this season.

They finished second in the section the past three seasons, going 10-2 each year. Serra finished second to Monessen the past two seasons. The Eagles may have cemented themselves as the favorite this season, however, with a 69-40 win against Monessen last week.

"The section [title] is a priority for us," Cleary said. "Monessen has locked up the section title the past few years. This year we played really well against them. When we play like that, we can play with anyone."

Serra's only loss was a 67-59 decision to No. 1-ranked Vincentian in the Serra tipoff tournament. The Eagles own impressive non-section wins against Allderdice, Steel Valley and Greensburg Central Catholic, all of which play in higher classifications.

"Going into this season, I thought we had a good veteran group that played well together," Cleary said. "I knew they would give us a chance.

"We still have a long way to go -- so far, so good right now. The veteran kids we have coming back gained a lot of experience the past few seasons. They have taken their lumps and learned from it."



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