Third-quarter surge leads Burrell girls to quarterfinal victory
These 18-0 runs are becoming a habit for Burrell basketball teams.
First the boys used an 18-0 run en route to a Wednesday victory over Washington.
Friday night, the Buccaneer girls went on an 18-0 surge to break open a close game against McGuffey and the end result was a 61-41 win at Keystone Oaks High School in Dormont.
The WPIAL Class AA quarterfinal victory puts Burrell (22-2) into the semifinals for the first time since 1994.
The Bucs will battle Bishop Canevin — a 56-44 winner over Mohawk — Tuesday at a site and time to be determined.
Friday's Burrell victory also secured a berth in the PIAA tournament, which begins March 8.
McGuffey's season is on hold with a 20-3 record. The Highlanders need a Bucs victory on Tuesday night to make the state tournament.
Sophomore Sydney Bordonaro led the Bucs with 17 points, but it was a strong first half by junior Kelsey Oddis that was a key factor in the victory.
“It just depends how the defense is,” Oddis said of her early opportunities. “All five of us can score no matter what, and we know we have five all-around players.”
Oddis had 10 in the first half, including eight of Burrell's first 13 points.
“Kelsey's been showing up really strong and handling the ball well,” Bucs coach Meghan Ziemianski said. “She played extremely well tonight.”
With Burrell in front, 25-23, midway through the second period, sophomore Erika Finn came off the bench to score five points in 35 seconds, and the Bucs were on their way.
“After she loosened up, she has a great stroke and she's a threat,” Ziemianski said.
McGuffey started the second half empty on its first seven possessions as Burrell continued to build its lead.
“I think some things didn't go our way,” McGuffey coach Amanda Burchett said of the 18-0 Bucs run. “We had six fouls, and they had none the first four minutes of the second half. That kind of swing made us adjust our game plan. That kind of deflates you.”
By the time sophomore guard Sammie Weiss posted a three-point play, Burrell had pulled ahead, 43-23.
Weiss scored 14 points in the first half as the Highlanders shot well. But the Bucs turned up the heat on Weiss, who managed just two second-half field goals and finished with 23 points.
“We just played our man-for-man,” Ziemianski said. “We looked at the book, and she had 14 at halftime. We held her to 13 for the whole game last year. So we switched Natalie (Myers) on her with those long arms of hers and told her to make Weiss put it on the floor.”
“Our girls are very young, and this is the first real experience we've had in the playoffs,” Burchett said. “We're all underclassmen, and I just think we got beat by a better team. Our girls have surpassed any expectation we had. We've done things that have never been done in McGuffey basketball.”
Bordonaro had six steals and Oddis had four.
Myers chipped in with 12 points and led the Bucs in rebounds with seven.
George Guido is a freelance writer.