Burrell seeks payback in WPIAL Class AA semifinal
Lengthy playoff runs could be the wave of the future for the Burrell girls basketball team, with a host of talented underclassmen returning next season and more coming up the ladder.
But this year's group doesn't want to talk about the potential for future opportunities to compete for WPIAL titles.
The theme around the Buccaneers: Why not this year?
“I remember when I was 8 years old and people were talking about our group coming up,” Burrell sophomore guard Sydney Bordonaro said. “People almost expected us to be good and to make a run like this. We're so excited. We can't wait to have a chance to play at Palumbo.”
No. 3 seed Burrell (22-2) will play No. 2 Bishop Canevin (20-4) at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Moon in its first WPIAL semifinal appearance since 1994.
A win vaults the Bucs into the Class AA championship game, slated for 5 p.m. Friday at Palumbo Center.
The winner of No. 5 Jeannette (17-6) and No. 1 Seton-La Salle (23-1) will be waiting.
Burrell lost twice to Bishop Canevin in the Crusaders' fall league. This one counts, though, and Burrell wants payback.
“The odds are in our favor this time,” Burrell coach Meghan Ziemianski said. “It's a much different situation. Our girls see it as any other game. They are relaxed and ready to go.
“There isn't that ‘what-if-we-lose' feeling.”
Burrell has been among the top defensive teams in the WPIAL for most of the season. The Bucs allow just 27.5 points per game.
They'll have to limit the production of Bishop Canevin standout guard Erin Waskowiak, who averages 16 points. A Duquesne recruit, she scored 31 in a first-round win over Neshannock.
“It was a close game, and it got real intense (in the fall league),” Bordonaro said. “They have some good guards, but we think we match up well with them.”
But Waskowiak is not alone. Guard Celina DiPietro connected on eight 3-pointers and scored 26 points in a 56-44 win over Mohawk in the quarterfinals. That win gave Tim Joyce his 200th career win.
While Burrell is new to this level of the playoffs, Bishop Canevin is not. Four starters returned from a team that reached the WPIAL final. The Crusaders lost to perennial power Seton-La Salle, 73-60, and would love another shot.
“It should be a good game,” Burrell junior guard Jaila Manga said. “We're trying not to let (the hype of playing in the semifinals) get to us.”
Manga has won a WPIAL championship in softball, so she knows the feeling of big-game pressure.
“You just have to play your game and see what happens,” Manga said.
Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch. Reach him at email@example.com.