Burrell's stingy defense claims another victim in playoff win
It was a night for another defensive clinic by the Burrell girls basketball team.
Burrell, featuring the WPIAL's stingiest defense, held Carlynton to five points in the first half and rolled to a 47-23 victory in a WPIAL Class AA girls first-round game Tuesday night at Gateway.
The Bucs (21-2) have limited opponents to 35 points or fewer in all 21 of their victories. Burrell starters collected 13 steals and forced 28 Cougars turnovers, including 11 third-quarter miscues.
The Bucs, in the quarterfinals for the first time since 1995, will face McGuffey (20-2) on Friday at a site and time to be determined. McGuffey turned back Riverside, 53-38, on Tuesday.
Carlynton (13-11) was in the WPIAL playoffs for the first time since 2005. Sophomore Sydney Bordonaro scored 16 points to lead Burrell. Natalie Myers added 13 and grabbed nine rebounds. Junior Jessica Cercone contributed six rebounds.
“Our saying's been, ‘relentless,' ” said Bucs coach Meghan Ziemianski on her team's defensive approach. “We've allowed the least points in the WPIAL, and we still talk about it even though the regular season's over.”
Burrell leads the WPIAL with 27 points yielded per game.
“We‘ve focused on our defense all year,” Bordonaro said. “We wanted to be the best defensive team in the WPIAL, and we got it. We want to continue it in the playoffs.”
Less than two minutes into the game, Bordonaro's backcourt steal off a press put the Bucs on top, 5-0, and forced Cougars first-year coach Tim Bonner to spend an early timeout.
Burrell led, 19-5, at the intermission.
Carlynton committed seven turnovers in the first three minutes of the second half. Burrell took advantage, going on a 10-0 run to start the third quarter.
By contrast, the Bucs didn't commit a third-quarter turnover until there were 3.5 seconds to go.
“We were a little nervous at first; you could tell when we'd catch a pass like we had brick hands,” Ziemianski said with a laugh.
“We were getting antsy because we wanted to play. We had two scrimmages, and we went and watched Carlynton play,” Bordonaro said. “We felt pretty prepared.”
Ziemianski played all eight rostered players, as the Bucs continue to build depth.
“It's really nice; we got the whole bench out there,” Ziemianski said. “I tell the girls to come out and play ‘D' so we can get everybody in there.”
One bright spot for Carlynton was junior Hannah Murray, who tallied 14 of her team's 23 points with the help of four 3-pointers.
Burrell's biggest lead was 42-15 on a pair of free throws by Myers with 5:38 left in the game.
George Guido is a freelance writer.