High School Girls Basketball: Rebels keep focus, advance to finale

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In the WPIAL Class AA final Feb. 28, Seton-LaSalle forced 24 turnovers and routed Burrell by 21 points.

But the Rebels didn't take Burrell lightly in the rematch Tuesday, instead coming out of the gates like they had something to prove.

Seton-LaSalle (26-4) jumped to a 14-point lead after the first quarter and led by double digits the rest of the way in a 48-37 victory against Burrell (28-2) in a PIAA Class AA semifinal at North Allegheny.

"I don't think we played a better quarter than that all season," Seton-LaSalle coach Spencer Stefko said. "I'm really proud of the kids for playing that way because not a lot of teams believe you when you say, 'I know we beat this team already, but they're better than you made them look and they're good enough to beat you.' "

The Rebels hit 8 of 13 shots in the first quarter, going 3 of 4 from 3-point range. Yacine Diop (4 of 6) and Cassidy Walsh (2 of 2 on 3-pointers), led the way.

And on the other end, Diop shut down Natalie Myers, holding Burrell's second-leading scorer scoreless in the first half.

"I like to play defense," said Diop, a Pitt recruit. "I know [Myers] is a good player, so I didn't want to let her score on me. That was my goal."

Without Myers' production, Sydney Bordonaro didn't have enough help offensively. The junior point guard contributed eight second-quarter points to help Burrell stay in the game, trailing, 31-17, at halftime. Bordonaro finished with a team-high 17 points.

But the Bucs had no answer for Diop, who scored the final four points in the third quarter to give the Rebels their biggest lead, 44-25. While Burrell held fellow Pitt recruit Naje Gibson to just five points, Diop finished with a game-high 20 points.

"It sure makes me a better coach to have two players like them," Stefko said of Gibson and Diop. "They're such good players and unselfish kids and I think you saw that by the way they move the ball."

Seton-LaSalle still led by 19 midway through the fourth quarter before Burrell scored the final eight points of the game. The Bucs went 4 of 4 from the free-throw line in that stretch, the only free-throw attempts Burrell shot against Seton-LaSalle in two games this season.

The Bucs did a better job on the boards this time around, outrebounding the Rebels, 26-23, after losing the rebounding battle by 16 in the WPIAL final.

But Seton-LaSalle still took seven more shots in the game, thanks to 20 Bucs turnovers.

Cassidy Walsh finished with 15 points for the Rebels, who will try for their second PIAA championship in three years Friday afternoon against Neumann-Goretti.

"This is my first and my last year playing here before college," said Diop, who sat out a season ago after transferring from Oak Hill Academy in Virginia. "So I really want to get that ring before I go."

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