WPIAL notebook: Burrell bends under Beaver Falls' defense
By George Guido
Published: Sunday, March 3, 2013, 12:36 a.m.
Although Burrell's two WPIAL title-game losses were against the same school, the flow of the games were vastly different.
In 1979, the Bucs lost a heartbreaker to Beaver Falls, pulling out to an 11-2 advantage and leading most of the way until Beaver Falls registered a deciding basket with 5 seconds left.
On Saturday, the Tigers took a 15-0 lead before Cole Bush scored for Burrell with 1:04 left in the first period. Beaver Falls won the Class AA final, 61-33.
The Bucs committed turnovers in each of their first four possessions Saturday and seven of the first nine times Burrell had the ball.
The cause? Beaver Falls' relentless defense.
The Tigers challenged the Burrell guards from the moment a possession started, preventing the Bucs from working the ball inside to big men Bush and Matt Hess.
“That was the game plan — come out and pressure all over the place,” Beaver Falls senior Elijah Cottrill said. “We had to pressure them full-court and at midcourt. If we let them get into a half-court game, their big guys are good and it would have been a closer game.”
Defensive pressure isn't just part of an occasional game plan for Beaver Falls — it's a way of life.
“That's our game plan, no matter who we play,” Tigers coach Doug Biega said. “It's just that I believed that would be their kryptonite — for us to pressure their guards.”
300 for Biega
Though just 42 years old, Biega reached 300 career victories. The 1988 Center High School graduate is in his 14th season at Beaver Falls.
After missing the 2000 playoffs in Biega's first year, the Tigers have made the playoffs each of the past 13 seasons.
Saturday's WPIAL title was the third during his tenure; Beaver Falls won gold in 2005 and '12. He also has had teams reach at least the semifinals nine times.
Biega's Tigers lost the 2008 title game to Jeannette and the '04 finals to rival Aliquippa.
The only Beaver Falls team under Biega to lose in the first round was the 2001 squad, which fell to Shady Side Academy.
The Bucs will open PIAA tournament play Saturday at Gateway against Bishop McCort. Game time is 4:30.
The Crimson Crushers defeated Bald Eagle Area, 68-43, in a District 6 consolation game for third place Friday night.
Burrell's next goal will be to win a PIAA playoff game. The Bucs are 0-3 in the state tournament, losing to Erie Strong Vincent (1979), Penn Cambria in ('84) and to Blackhawk (2001).
The Burrell girls don't have to travel too far, either, to open PIAA play. Coach Meghan Ziemianski's team will see action Friday at Plum High School in a 6 p.m. contest against District 6 runner-up Bellwood-Antis.
Leechburg still the one
With Burrell's loss Saturday, Leechburg remains the only local school to win a WPIAL basketball title in the 21st century. Leechburg brought home the Class A gold in 2007.
Among finalists who have come up short include Highlands in (2002, '09), Knoch (2004) and St. Joseph (2005).
In girls basketball, Freeport's 2004 team, along with Ford City (2007) and Fox Chapel (2009), all had to settle for silver medals.
George Guido is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Free-throw shooting keys Fox Chapel’s opening-round win
- ‘Lucky’ Monessen survives in 2 OTs
- North Allegheny girls enjoy ‘bounce back’ win over WPIAL champion Penn-Trafford
- PIAA boys basketball roundup: Chartiers Valley pulls out first-round victory
- PIAA girls basketball roundup: Mt. Lebanon ousted in first round
- Burrell girls eye improvement even after easy win in PIAA opener
- Minnie paces Lincoln Park in PIAA opening-round rout of Johnsonburg
- Fast start again fuels Hempfield girls to victory
- Derry’s Phillippi upset in PIAA quarterfinals
- TJ boys hang on despite foul trouble
- Woytovich makes 5-AA first team