Canevin topples Rebels, 41-36 Gain respect & trip to Hershey
In their fourth confrontation of the season, the biggest prize of all was on the line for the girls’ basketball teams from Seton-La Salle (27-3) and Bishop Canevin (26-4) and the Lady Crusaders seized it when they toppled the defending state champions, 41-36.
Canevin not only earned a berth in the PIAA championship game set for noon Friday, March 22 at the Giant Center in Hershey, the Crusaders gained the admiration of their adversary.
“They did not respect us,” said Canevin head coach Tim Joyce, referring to comments Seton-La Salle made after the Rebels lost their WPIAL title to the Crusaders. “They talked about how disappointed they were in how they played and it was a fluke. Well maybe the first time they played us and beat us by 30 points that was the fluke.”
In winning the section banner, SLS thumped the Crusaders, 66-35, on their home court and 66-58 in the second confrontation. But, when it mattered most, Canevin rose to the top, besting the Rebels, 56-47, in the District 7 championship contest on March 1 at the A.J. Palumbo Center, and two weeks later by a five-point margin in the western regional final at Chartiers Valley.
Joyce said Sun Tzu’s philosophy on The Art Of War fueled his squad against its chief rival. “In the book, Sun Tzu says to ‘pretend inferiority’ and ‘encourage his arrogance’ against your enemy,” said Joyce. “We let them do all the talking. They did not respect us. They were not prepared for a game like this.”
The Crusaders, however, were. Although their top warrior was saddled with three fouls early in the second stanza, Canevin weathered the setback. The Crusaders overcame a two-point deficit after one quarter, 12-10, and took a 19-18 lead into the locker room at halftime. Erin Waskowiak did not score a point until she connected on a pair of free throws that put the Crusaders ahead for good, 33-31, with 4:04 to play. The Duquesne University recruit and team’s leading scorer added a bucket with 1:56 left to finish with four points.
“You always worry about that,” Joyce said when your leader gets into foul trouble, “but you deal with it.”
While sophomore Alaina McGuire and junior Caroline DeFrank gave the Crusaders a lift off the bench, drawing the praise of Joyce, Carly Forse picked up the pace offensively. The senior fired in 17 points, 10 in the first half. She scored five in a decisive fourth frame, in which Canevin outscored the Rebels, 14-8. Forse’s lay-up with 1:15 to play lifted the Crusaders to their largest lead, 39-33.
“Alaina and Caroline did a great job,” said Joyce, “Carly had another big game. She’s been doing that all through the playoffs. We expect that from her. We expect that from all the girls.”
After Cassidy Walsh’s 3-point field goal pulled SLS within 39-36 with 64 seconds to play, Celina DiPietro and Forse iced the victory. They converted free throws with 19 and 10 seconds to play.
DiPietro finished with 10 tallies as did Gina Vallecorsa. DiPietro had the only 3-pointer for the Crusaders and it came in the second stanza. Vallecorsa kept Canevin in the game by scoring six points in the third quarter as SLS edged ahead, 28-27.
In the final frame, Canevin converted 6 of 9 shots from the charity stripe while SLS connected on just one of four attempts. Three of the misses came on the front end of one-and-one situations.
“We usually shoot foul shots real well,” said Joyce. “When you run our offense you better be confident that you can make them from the free throw line. But, they helped us in the end.”
Defense also aided Canevin, which allows 32.9 points per game. The Crusaders forced critical SLS miscues and turnovers down the stretch.
“We played defense,” explained Joyce for those seeking the Crusader’s secret to success. “That was all we did.”
In doing so, Canevin earned the right to compete in the PIAA Class AA girls’ championship game. The Crusaders will battle District III champion, York Catholic, a 45-28 winner over Saint Basil Academy in the other semifinal contest.
Of the trip to Hershey Joyce said, “Obviously, we are going there to win. We’ll celebrate our victory tonight and get back to work tomorrow.”
For the Lady Rebels there is no tomorrow as they finished their season. They lose two starters—Angela Heintz, who finished with eight points and Natalie Piaggesi, who tossed in six markers—to graduation along with Katherine Hart. Heintz is bound for Duquesne and Piaggesi will play at Mercyhurst.
No Rebel scored in double figures in the loss. Junior Naje Gibson finished with eight as did sophomore Cassidy Walsh, who is already committed to Duquesne. Nicolete Newman, another sophomore starter, provided four points for SLS.