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Jeannette gets win despite scoreless first

Jeannette missed its first 25 shots from the field, didn't score in the first quarter, and remarkably found a way to win.

You did not read that wrong.

Jeannette advanced to the WPIAL semifinals for the first time in school history, rallying to defeat South Fayette, 44-40, on Friday night at Baldwin High School. Jeannette will next play Beaver, which upset No. 3 Greensburg Central Catholic, 57-51, in the Class AA playoffs last night.

"We played horrible," Jeannette senior guard Kayla Cook said. "We didn't practice well all week, and we played that way. Our defense won this game."

Jeannette trailed 8-0 after one quarter and was down 13-1 early in the second quarter before mounting a comeback. But Jeannette's full-court press forced South Fayette into 11 second-quarter turnovers, and Jeannette crawled back to within 16-10 at halftime. South Fayette finished with 26 turnovers.

"I was amazed we shot so poorly," Jeannette coach Janine Vertacnik said. "I would have been concerned (more) if we were down 20 and we missed our first 25 shots."

Jeannette's first field goal of the game came with 1:57 left in the first half when Cook hit a driving layup. Cook finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds.

"I thought our zone defense gave them problems in the first half," South Fayette coach Matt Bacco said. "We knew it was only a matter of time before they'd start making plays. We were playing the odds that they'd miss from the outside."

Cook took over in the third quarter, scoring 13 points, as Jeannette forged to a 25-23 lead.

"We knew if we continued to play defense and (could) keep them under 50, we'd have a shot," Vertacnik said. "I knew Kayla was ready to take over. She carried us in the third quarter, and Ciara (Gregory) finished the deal."

Gregory, who finished with 14 points, scored 12 points in the fourth quarter. She hit a couple big 3-pointers, but her follow with 37.3 second left gave Jeannette a 42-40 lead. Her bucket with 10.6 seconds left sealed the victory.

"Ciara had been struggling, and she needed a game like this," Vertacnik said. "We knew she was ready for a big game."

After shooting so poorly for much of the game, numerous Jayhawks hit big hoops in the fourth quarter. That included Shanae Daye, who hit a 3-pointer to tie the score at 40, and Shanice Cook, who hit a basket. Kayla Cook didn't score in the fourth quarter.

Jeannette, which was 16 for 63, was 8 for 13 from the field in the fourth quarter.

Gregory's effort countered a strong effort by Lizzy King, who scored 17 of her game-high 20 points in the second half.

"We were rushing our shots in the first half, and our self-esteem was down," Cook said. "We pulled together at halftime and got it done. I'm glad we're not playing Greensburg Central Catholic because I wanted to play someone different. I had a feeling they'd lose."

Vertacnik wasn't too disappointed Beaver won either.

"I'd rather play someone different," Vertacnik said. "We'll just have to play a lot better."

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