In the first minute of the third quarter of Saturday’s girls Class A championship at Palumbo Center, Serra Catholic had sliced a seven-point halftime deficit to just one basket by going on a 5-0 run against two-time defending champion Vincentian. That prompted Royals coach Ron Moncrief to call a timeout with 7:03 left in the quarter.
What followed dashed Serra’s title hopes, as Vincentian went on a 10-0 run followed by a 13-5 burst as the Royals rolled to a 66-46 victory for their third title in a row.
Balance has fueled the Royals (22-3) all season, even though Brenna Wise has been their top scorer. She again led the way Saturday with 25 points, 13 rebounds and 6 blocked shots. Torrieonna Cash and Maia Joiner each added 11 points. Katie Sieg led Serra (23-3) with 14 points. It was the second meeting between the two teams. Vincentian also won, 70-60, Dec. 7.
“We knew coming in that we were going to have to play nice defense,” Moncrief said. “Serra Catholic’s a really good offensive team. We did a good job playing defense against them.”
The Eagles’ 18 turnovers backed up Moncrief’s statement.
Wise said the message of the timeout in the third quarter was simple, but effective.
“We had unfinished business and we weren’t going to let anything come in the way of that,” she said.
Immediately after the timeout, Cash hit a 3-pointer, and after a missed Serra attempt, Wise hit a 3 off a nice pass from Cash. The Royals added another Wise basket and one from Kayla Key to take a 44-32 lead with 5:30 left in the third.
“We played great as a unit and we complement each other,” Wise said.
The Royals’ run stunned Serra coach Bill Cleary.
“We were in great shape, had our legs underneath us and had made a run to get back [into the game],” he said. “They called their timeout, and it turned out to be the opposite [effect].”
Vincentian made 10 of its 15 field-goal attempts in that quarter to put its stamp on the game.
Cleary called a timeout after the 10-0 run, but the deal was sealed when Vincentian outscored Serra, 13-5, to take a 59-39 lead and put the game out of reach.
“That’s the best I’ve ever seen [the Royals] shoot,” Cleary said of Vincentian’s 25-of-55 shooting from the field and 8-of-16 shooting on 3-pointers. “I’ve seen them play on more than one occasion this year. But the players who were making the 3-point goals all year weren’t necessarily the ones who were making them today. I don’t know how many shots they made, but we didn’t make any.”
The Royals meet Port Allegany, the No. 3 team from District 9, Saturday in the first round of the PIAA tournament. Serra meets Cochranton, the District 10 runner-up after a 49-38 loss against Kennedy Catholic.
Mike White: firstname.lastname@example.org. First Published March 1, 2014 12:56 PM