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Slagus sisters help Belle Vernon roll past Greensburg Salem

| Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, 10:42 p.m.
Members of the Belle Vernon girls basketball team celebrates after beating Greensburg Salem at Hempfield High School on Wednesday, February 20, 2013. Brian F. Henry | Tribune-Review

Belle Vernon breezed through its first test in the WPIAL girls basketball playoffs Wednesday night, handling Greensburg Salem with ease — an about-face from its last meeting with the Golden Lions.

Jessica Slagus scored 21 points, and her sister, Kaitlyn Slagus, added 18 to lead Belle Vernon to a 60-41 victory in a Class AAA first-round game at Hempfield.

The Leopards (16-6) advance to the quarterfinals Saturday against top-seeded Blackhawk at a site to be determined.

“We played four strong, hard quarters,” Belle Vernon coach Lisa Fairman said.

The victory for Section 4-AAA runner-up Belle Vernon avenged a 10-point loss to Greensburg Salem (16-7) during the regular season in a game that saw the Slagus sisters battle foul trouble.

Wednesday, however, Belle Vernon's big girls controlled the boards and scored seemingly at will inside.

“We worked the ball inside and got some great rebounding,” Fairman said. “This was the best defensive game we've played.”

Jessica Slagus, a 6-foot-1 senior, and 6-2 sophomore Kaitlyn Slagus towered over the rest of the lineups.

“Having both of those sisters in there together is a problem for opponents,” Fairman said.

The exclamation point to the victory came early in the fourth quarter, when Phaedra DeWitt's length-of-the-court pass to Jessica Slagus beat the Greensburg Salem defense and resulted in an easy layup for Belle Vernon.

Slagus was fouled on the basket but missed the free throw only to have her sister tip in the rebound to give the Leopards a 51-33 advantage.

“We knew coming into the game that this would be a tough matchup for us,” Greensburg Salem coach Janine Vertacnik said. “Tonight wasn't our night. They were taller and physically stronger than us.”

Sophomore Claire Oberdorf led Greensburg Salem, the Section 3-AAA runner-up, with 12 points. Angela Balya added 11 for the Golden Lions.

Fairman said that while the Slagus sisters dominated the inside, Belle Vernon's plan was to contain Greensburg Salem senior guards Jayne Oberdorf and Angela Balya.

“Our defense was absolutely outstanding,” Fairman said. “We shut down some of the better guards in the WPIAL.”

Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at dmackall@tribweb.com.

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