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Burrell's WPIAL-best defense holds A-R to 17 points in win

| Monday, Jan. 7, 2013, 11:16 p.m.
Burrell's Jaila Manga attempts to score past (from left) Apollo Ridge's Sarah Bonelli and Brianna Fairman during Monday's game at Burrell. (Erica Hilliard | Tribune-Review)
Burrell's Sydney Bordonaro (21) drives past Apollo-Ridge's Sarah Bonelli during a game last week at Burrell High School. Erica Hilliard | Valley News Dispatch

Burrell girls basketball players aren't overly sensitive when it comes to constructive criticism from their coaches, but they tend to get defensive from time to time.

Especially when it comes to man-to-man defense.

“These girls love to play defense. You're not going to see them let up,” Burrell coach Meghan Ziemianski said. “If I asked them to run through that wall over there for me, they wouldn't hesitate.”

High-energy Burrell was at it again Monday night, using unrelenting pressure to slam Apollo-Ridge, 64-17, in a Section 1-AA game in Lower Burrell.

The Lady Bucs (7-1, 3-0), ranked No. 5 in Class AA by Trib Total Media, forced six turnovers in the first two minutes and held Apollo-Ridge (7-4, 1-3) scoreless for the first five minutes.

The game marked the sixth time Burrell has held an opponent to fewer than 25 points. The Bucs allowed a season-high 47 against Shaler in their only loss, but their defense is allowing a WPIAL-best 24 points per game.

Sophomore Sydney Bordonaro scored a game-high 21 points and registered nine steals, freshman forward Natalie Myers added 14 points and 10 rebounds and junior point guard Jaila Manga had 11 points and 11 rebounds for the Bucs, who took a 32-8 lead into halftime.

Junior guard Kelsey Oddis notched 12 points.

“Our practices are like games,” Oddis said. “We go full-out all practice. Once we get locked in, we're in.”

Burrell has the personnel to execute a press against teams for 32 minutes, unlike many other teams.

Ziemianski, who used to coach at Highlands, got accustomed to seeing zones on a nightly basis. The defensive change of pace has been as refreshing as it's been rewarding for Ziemianski, in her third season at Burrell.

“I was coming from Class AAA where teams live and die with the 2-3 (zone),” Ziemianski said. “We want to pressure the ball. That's what we worked on all summer.

“We always work on our shell drill; two-pass, one-pass. And we're always working on face-cuts.”

Ashley Emminger led Apollo-Ridge with 10 points. The Vikings showed promise early on and should be a contender for one of the four playoff spots in the section.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter @jdbbeck.

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