Wise, Vincentian overcome Serra Catholic in WPIAL Class A final
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Vincentian coach Ron Moncrief paused for a moment to see what the commotion was all about before quickly realizing it could be only one person - Brenna Wise.
"That's just Brenna, she's always energetic like that," Moncrief said.
Yeah, you can say Wise was just a little happy following Saturday's 53-46 win over Serra Catholic at Duquesne's A.J. Palumbo Center that gave Vincentian a second consecutive Class A basketball championship.
"Excited ... yeah, a little bit," said Wise, running her words together and making each syllable louder.And really, who could blame her?
Wise concluded a dominant run through the Class A postseason with her virtuoso performance - she scored 18 points, grabbed 20 rebounds and blocked three shots to lead No. 1 Vincentian to a WPIAL championship less than 24 hours after the Royals boys' team did the same.
Vincentian (25-1) will take on District 9 third-place finisher Keystone Friday in the first-round of the PIAA playoffs, while Serra (23-3) will oppose District 10 runner-up Cochranton.
"We just won the championship," Wise proclaimed. "This is special. Winning two in a row is amazing. Most people can't say that, and I am very fortunate to be part of a team that can say that."
Wise, just a sophomore, put a cap on an impressive two weeks of playoff basketball.
Wise had 18 points, 11 rebounds and 10 blocks in a first-round win over West Greene; scored 24 and eclipsed the 1,000-point plateau in the quarterfinals against Winchester-Thurston; and scored 20 and pulled down 22 in the semifinals against Quigley Catholic.
She just may have saved her best for Serra.
"She is a phenomenal talent," Serra coach Bill Cleary said. "She has a knack of making big plays when they need it the most. She is a special talent."
Wise got plenty of help in securing the sixth girls' basketball championship in school history. Kiersten Elliott scored 13 and Maia Joiner 12, including four critical free throws in the final 52 seconds to ice the game.
Serra was led by Katie Sieg's 13 and Megan Sieg's 12 as the Eagles were held to their lowest offensive output of the season, mostly because of poor shooting. Serra hit only 21-of-69 shots, including 1 of 14 from 3-point range.
"They just weren't falling," Cleary said. "You can't make any excuses other than it just didn't go down."The Eagles had very few open looks, especially from the 3-point line.
"We didn't want to give them anything easy," Moncrief said. "They had too many easy buckets in the first half, so we switched a little and that kind of slowed them down."
Trailing for the majority of the first half, Serra scored seven of the first nine points in the second half to take a 28-26 lead.
"We've been down before and we didn't panic," Moncrief said. "There's no panic in this group."
It was all Vincentian after that.
The Royals reeled off 13 consecutive points to open up a 11-point lead early in the fourth quarter. Serra was held without a point for 6:35.
"Our defense set the tone and got us some easy buckets in transition," Moncrief said.
Serra rallied to get its deficit to 48-43 with less than a minute left, but Vincentian secured the title from the free throw line over the final two minutes.
"Now our goal now is to win states," Wise said.
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