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Seton-La Salle too much for Jeannette

| Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013, 9:24 p.m.
Jeannett'e Ciara Gregory tries to drive by Seton-La Salle's Shaunay Edmonds during their WPIAL Class AA semifinal Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013 at North Hill High School. (Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review)

Jeannette's bus got caught in traffic on the way to North Hills High School on Tuesday, making the Jayhawks late for their WPIAL Class AA girls basketball semifinal against top-seeded Seton-La Salle.

The outcome of the game was not worth the wait.

Following a half-hour delay, Natalie Piaggesi scored 14 of her 17 points in the first quarter to set the pace for Seton-La Salle in a 73-38 rout of Jeannette that sent the Rebels to the WPIAL championship game.

The late start had no bearing on the outcome. Seton-La Salle simply outclassed yet another foe.

“That is a great team over there,” Jeannette coach Luann Mills said. “They're at the top of the class. We couldn't get into any kind of offense against them, and that, in turn, affected our defense.”

Nicolette Newman scored 14 points, and Naje Gibson added 10 for Seton-La Salle (24-1), which won its 17th consecutive game.

Jeannette was led by Ciara Gregory, the WPIAL's leading scorer, who finished with 27 points. The Jayhawks played without senior Monique Redman, the team's second-leading scorer, who was sidelined with an upper-body injury.

“She's our second-best ball-handler, too,” Mills said.

“We knew coming into this game that it would probably be an issue for us.”

Seton-La Salle, which built leads of 20-9 at the end of the first quarter, 42-16 at halftime and 65-29 after three, has outscored its opponents by an average of 35 points per game. First-year coach John Ashaolu said it hasn't been a distraction.

“Our practices have been a lot of fun,” he said. “For me, that's more rewarding than the games. I like to teach and work with the girls. The games are for them.”

When it was suggested that his team is perhaps a favorite to win WPIAL and PIAA titles, Ashaolu smiled and said: “We have work ahead of us, but those are the goals now. It's certainly big expectations.”

Though Jeannette (17-7) saw its title hopes halted, Mills said the Jayhawks needn't feel so bad.

“We accomplished a lot,” Mills said. “We won our fourth straight section title, and I'm proud of this group.”

Gregory is the leader, averaging 32 points per game in her senior season. She is committed to Charlotte.

Things were so lopsided against the Jayhawks from the start that they needed Rachel Roth's jumper from the corner at the halftime buzzer just to cut the margin to 26 points.

After the teams emerged from their locker rooms following the game, Mills gathered her players in the school lobby while a bus awaited them outside.

“We're going to get on that bus and take (Interstate) 279,” she said with a laugh. “We're a team and we're going home together as a team. It's been a good year.”

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

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