Bishop Canevin stuns Lady Rebels
Odds were not in the favor of Bishop Canevin in the WPIAL Class AA girls' championship game.
The Lady Crusaders had to face Seton-La Salle, their Section 4-AA rival which had defeated them twice this season by scores of 66-35 and 68-58, and had defeated them eight times in a row — including in the previous two WPIAL tournaments.
But the Lady Crusaders knew it was their game — it was fate.
“Carly (Forse) and I had a dream that we won,” said BC senior guard Celina DiPietro. “We have been working for this all year. It is just great.”
Dreams became reality as Bishop Canevin defeated Seton-La Salle, 56-47, for the first time since 2010 to capture its first-ever WPIAL girls' basketball title.
“We had our chances. We didn't come out and execute,” John Ashaolu, Seton-La Salle's head coach, said. “They didn't do anything different; they hit their shots. It was just their night.
“This will make us work harder. We will get better from this.”
The Lady Crusaders took an early 4-2 lead, and never looked back.
Bishop Canevin (22-4) controlled the tempo of the first quarter, building the lead to 10 after a Forse free throw and Johnie Olkosky 3-pointer.
Olkosky, a junior forward, scored 12 points in the first half, all off 3-pointers.
“She is a great shooter,” Tim Joyce, Bishop Canevin's head coach, said. “That was sort of the game plan. We knew they were so big inside. We wanted to spread the floor and dribble-penetrate so they would start doubling the ball and we would have open threes.
“As soon as (Olkosky) made the first one, we knew she was on.”
Bishop Canevin's defense also was fierce, limiting Seton-La Salle (24-2) to a single field goal in the first quarter.
The Lady Rebels mounted several rallies in the second quarter and cut the lead to four with 40 seconds to go in the half, but DiPietro hit a jumper at the buzzer to lift her squad a 28-22 advantage.
“The message (at halftime) was pretty much slow it down and keep it up on defense,” senior guard Erin Waskowiak said. “I was confident. I knew we had it.”
Slowing it down may have been the message but the Lady Crusaders did anything but. Olkosky hit two 3-pointers in the first two minutes to build the lead back to 12.
A 3-pointer by Olkosky with 16 seconds left in the third quarter gave Bishop Canevin its biggest lead of the game at 48-33.
Senior guard Angela Heintz's basket with 1:17 in regulation pulled Seton-La Salle to within five, but Bishop Canevin's foul shooting kept Seton at bay — despite going 2 of 6 during the final minute.
“All through the game the (seniors) kept saying, ‘This is our game,'” Waskowiak said. “We knew we would win.”
Olkosky led the team with a game-high 26 points, and her seven 3-pointers tied the WPIAL title game record.
“We knew she could shoot,” Ashaolu said. “When one person hits seven threes ... you don't see that too often.”
Forse finished with 14 points, and DiPietro added 10.
For Seton-La Salle, Heintz and junior guard/forward Naje Gibson scored 16 points apiece. Heintz netted eight points in the fourth quarter, sparking the Lady Rebels to a 12-0 run.
Joyce said while the win was big since it came against an arch-rival, it was an even bigger deal defeating one of the most dominant teams in the state.
“It is just not about the rivalry,” Joyce said. “They have been so dominant for so many years that it makes the win better. We have been solid for a number of years. We have just been trying to get over the hump. It has been fun doing it.”
The Lady Rebels' 47-point total was their lowest since March 22, 2011.
Joyce said he was confident in his game plan as long as his team made the most of its possessions.
“We were prepared for whatever they would do,” he said. “The difference is we made shots. We didn't give them transition baskets, and we didn't turn the ball over.”
Seton-La Salle hadn't lost to a WPIAL opponent since December 2010 — a streak of 66 consecutive victories.
Ray Fisher contributed to this story. Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5813 or email@example.com.