Heinle lifts St. Joseph past Avella
TribLIVE Sports Videos
St. Joseph girls basketball coach Dan Slain is no stranger to metaphors when it comes to describing his team's play.
On Saturday, he pulled a new one out of the garage.
“Sometimes, we have slow starts,” Slain said. “We're like a car on a January morning. Chug, chug, chug. Once we get that motor running, we can kick it into gear and roll.
“And Mallory Heinle is our engine.”
Heinle, the Spartans' 6-foot-1 junior forward, scored 20 of her game-high 24 points in the second half to lead 12th-seeded St. Joseph to a 45-30 upset of No. 5 Avella in a Class A first-round playoff game at North Hills.
St. Joseph (11-12) advances to the quarterfinals, where it will face No. 4 Quigley (17-5) on Feb. 23 at a time and site to be determined.
Quigley, which beat St. Joseph, 49-43, earlier this season, advanced with an 81-38 win over California.
“We just need to get into a groove and keep it going,” said Heinle, who also pulled down eight rebounds. “We started slow, but a lot of people stepped up to keep us in the game.”
Avella (13-9) played without its leading scorer, 5-9 senior center Olivia English, who missed the game with a neck injury.
“When we saw her with the neck brace on, my heart sank,” Slain said. “You hate to see something like that happen. But I lost two of my girls in the same game on Jan. 7. It's never easy.”
Heinle and 5-10 junior forward Nikki Mielecki have missed extended time with ankle injuries. But with both in the lineup, the Spartans are looking to make noise.
Mielecki also had eight rebounds and four assists Saturday.
“We're not 100 percent yet, but at least we know we'll get some rest (before the second round),” Heinle said.
St. Joseph had only eight turnovers, and, as Slain pointed out, moved to 10-1 when committing 12 or fewer.
“We're 1-11 when we go the other way,” Slain said. “Our kids played hard today. We stress defense, rebounding and sharing the ball. Everybody got into the book.”
St. Joseph led, 15-12, at halftime but wasted no time pulling away in the second half. A 10-2 run pushed the lead to 26-14 and nine straight points by Heinle helped St. Joseph take a 39-19 lead. Heinle hit two 3-pointers in the third, showing she is more than a post player.
“We're glad to be moving on,” Heinle said. “We know Quigley well, so we think we can definitely give them a game.”
Heinle has 869 career points despite missing 10 games due to injury.
Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.