Serra girls cruise to another Section 4-A victory
For a coach whose team just won its 11th consecutive game, Serra Catholic girls basketball coach Bill Cleary had a noticeable level of concern on his face.
Serra just finished the first half of the Section 4-A season a perfect 5-0 after a 64-24 victory over visiting Frazier.
It's been something that's become all too familiar for Cleary. Basically, it's been too easy for the Lady Eagles, and the veteran coach with 512 wins, four WPIAL titles and a state championship on his resume knows it.
“Yeah, I am worried,” said Cleary, whose team is beating section opponents by an average of 45 points per game. “Our December was tough, but now …”
Well, now it's been game after game of blowout wins, a streak that might not stop over the final month of the season.
Serra has eight games left but only one against a team with a winning record; the Lady Eagles travel to Class AAA Belle Vernon (9-4) Tuesday for a nonsection game.
Other than that, Serra's remaining schedule is against teams with a combined 28-64 record.
“We really never had to deal with something like this much,” Cleary said. “But we play against the schedule that we have. That's just what we have to do.”
So Cleary looks to execution as a sign of how his team is performing, and if Thursday was any indication, the Lady Eagles are doing just fine.
Serra (12-1, 5-0) opened the game on a 19-0 run and was never threatened by the section's second-place team. Serra held Frazier to 12 points in the first half and forced 35 turnovers — 11 of which came during that 19-0 run.
“We try to look for execution,” Cleary said. “We didn't shoot the ball well in the first half but tried to keep up with our defensive pressure, and that's what we did. We have been forcing a lot of turnovers this year and today was no different.”
Serra's offense came around as well.
Leslie Hoye scored a game-high 14 points, and Nicole Pero added 11 points, 10 rebounds and a pair of blocked shots as nine different Serra players scored. Megan Sieg added nine and Brooke McCallister eight.
Frazier (7-7, 3-2) got nine points and 10 rebounds from Cassidy Guiser.
Leading 29-10, Serra quickly put the game away in the third quarter.
Hoye hit a shot followed by Sieg's basket to make it 33-12. After Guiser made it 33-14, Pero put back a shot, and a three-point play by Sieg pushed Serra's lead to 38-14.
“Our ball movement was far better in the half court in the second half,” Cleary said. “Frazier did a good job of choking off our transition game. They made use hustle all night.”
Serra might not play the best of opponents heading down the stretch, but the Lady Eagles will have a challenge with six of their final eight games on the road, including tough venues such as Clairton and Monessen.
“Those places aren't easy to play at, so that will be a challenge,” Cleary said. “But what we have to do is continue to get better, and I believe that's what we will do.”
Serra travels to Northgate (1-14) Monday for a nonsection game.