Clutch 3-pointer lifts Plum girls to victory over Gateway
Plum's Jordan Seneca is a Division I college softball prospect as a shortstop.
She made the play of the game from the hot corner Saturday afternoon — this time for the girls basketball team.
Seneca hit a 3-pointer with 5.4 seconds left in overtime to lift Plum to a 39-37 victory over visiting Gateway to keep the Mustangs in the Section 2-AAAA title race.
Plum has secured a fourth straight WPIAL playoff berth, but never has won a section title.
The dramatic shot was Seneca's only field goal of the game.
“I kept shooting, so I knew one was going to go in eventually,” said Seneca, a junior who has softball interest from St. Francis (Pa.), Kent State and Akron. “I knew I could make that shot. I knew it was going in.”
Plum (15-4, 8-2), which has won six straight and nine of its last 10, denied Gateway (15-4, 9-2) a share of the section title — at least on this day — and is now a half-game out of first place. Gateway and Fox Chapel are tied at the top.
“If I had a dollar for every lead change today, I'd be a rich man,” Plum coach Bernie Pucka said.
Neither team led by more than five. Junior guard Krista Pietropola's steal and two free throws tied it, 32-32, with 23.5 seconds left in regulation.
The lead changed hands five times in the extra period.
In overtime, after senior guard Ang Borriello hit a 3 — on Senior Day — to give Plum a 36-34 lead, Gateway's Maria Taylor got the Gators within one with free throw.
After Gateway junior guard Jada Epps made a soft jumper with 44 seconds left, Plum went to work on its final possession.
With leading scorer Pietropola trapped by a collapsing 3-2 zone, Seneca sprung free into the far corner, caught a pass from Pietropola and fired.
“Jordan's a thinker,” Pucka said. “Sometimes she is better just reacting and not thinking too much. That was a huge shot.”
Plum went 12 for 22 shooting free throws and had several turnovers on fast-break attempts, which allowed Gateway to hang around.
“We were hesitant at times today,” Pucka said. “In the first three or four minutes we in attack mode. We needed to take better care of the ball after we got rebounds.”
Junior forward Aly Weifenbaugh grabbed 12 rebounds, and sophomore Courtney Zezza 11 for Plum. Zezza fouled out with 2:17 left in OT.
Gateway led, 18-16, at the half. The third quarter opened with some pushing and shoving after Plum took a 23-18 lead. Tempers cooled, and Plum capped a 10-0 run early in the fourth on a coast-to-coast hoop by Pietropola.
Gateway cut into another five-point deficit and pulled even, 30-30, on a basket by Katey Wilson with 3:02 left.
Gateway held the ball for nearly two minutes and took a 32-30 lead on Taylor's driving layup with 49.2 seconds.
Pietropola scored a game-high 16 points, including 9 of 15 free throws, and grabbed eight rebounds.
“Everyone played one of their best games today,” said Pietropola, who has 906 career points. “The last time we played them, we were soft, especially in the first half.”
Bill Beckner Jr. is the Local Sports Editor of the Valley News Dispatch. He can be reached at email@example.com.