Seton-La Salle beats Burrell for WPIAL AA girls’ title

Published Mar 1, 2014 at 10:08 am (Updated Mar 1, 2014 at 10:08 am)

After Seton-La Salle handed Burrell its first loss of the season, 55-34, and captured its third WPIAL Class AA girls’ basketball championship in four years at Duquesne’s A.J. Palumbo Center, first-year head coach Spencer Stefko took little credit for the Lady Rebels’ success.

“It’s nice to have good players,” he explained.

Stefko certainly has his share of those. His squad features three University of Pittsburgh recruits and two defensive standouts that forced the Buccaneers into 24 turnovers.

A 5-foot-4 sophomore Shaunay Edmonds accounted for the majority of the defensive stops, making steals that triggered a Rebels’ 11-0 run to start the contest. By intermission, SLS led, 32-12, thanks in part to 10 points from Edmonds. She finished with 15 tallies.

“[Shaunay] is our unsung hero,” said Stefko. “She’s a diamond in the rough.

“We have two players, Shaunay and Nicolete [Newman], good players that don’t get much mention but make a difference for us because of their defense.”

Yacine Diop made a difference on offense and on the boards. The senior fired in 15 points, nine in the first half. She also grabbed 15 rebounds.

“[Yancine’s] performance speaks for itself. That’s a girl that is going to have a great college career,” said Stefko. “Pitt is lucky to have her.

The Panthers are lucky to get Naje Gibson, too. The 6-foot center pumped in 10 tallies, many from the outside baseline corner.

Cassidy Walsh, another Pitt recruit although just a junior, finished with five points. She and Julie DeKlaven had SLS’s only 3-pointers in the game.

“We didn’t do anything exotic,” explained Stefko. “We put pressure on the ball and people in support positions to make the plays. When you have good players that leads to good plays.

“It’s nice to have five kids who also played hard on defense at the other end of the court,” continued Stefko. “We play with plenty of energy and have a lot of athleticism.”

SLS’s talent does not stop with the first five. In addition to DeKlaven and Julia Cipollone, who scored two free throws, Morgan Henderson came off the bench to spell the Rebels’ inside. Additionally, Stefko was able to empty his bench midway through the final frame as SLS maintained its 20-point advantage throughout. Bailey Canavan, Delaney Daly, Alexia Facchiano, Mia Marzina, Madalena Psillidis, and Bridget Sigg, all underclassmen, gave the Rebels quality minutes.

“We are much deeper than most teams,” Stefko said. “When we put our seventh and eighth players in, its seamless. We’re never out of rhythm.

“We exert a lot of energy,” Stefko continued. “Energy and athleticism,” he added are two big reasons why the Rebels are WPIAL champions and poised to battle for a PIAA title.

With the win, SLS improved to 22-4 overall. The Rebels begin their quest for their second state title in three years on March 7 against the No. 3 team from District 3.

With the loss, the Buccaneers fell to 25-1 overall. Burrell plays the No. 2 team from District 9 in the PIAA tournament. The Buccaneers are led by Sydney Bordonaro. Another Pitt recruit, she fired in 14 points against the Rebels.

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