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Serra girls hope to carry over momentum from first-round PIAA win

| Sunday, March 10, 2013, 9:33 p.m.

Serra Catholic found itself with a bit of an identity crisis after losing to Vincentian in the WPIAL Class A championship game.

“It was kind of a tough week,” Serra Catholic coach Bill Cleary said. “I the beginning of the week it was hard, but as the week rolled on, time heals all wounds, so we were ready to go.”

Cochranton certainly can attest to Serra Catholic (24-3) finding its groove again as the Eagles scored the first 11 points and cruised to a 67-43 victory over the Cardinals in the opening round of the PIAA Class A playoffs Saturday at Gateway. It was the first win for Serra Catholic in the state tournament since a 54-51 win over Farrell on March 15, 2006.

To end the seven-year drought, Serra Catholic needed to do what helped it win 20 games during the regular season. The Eagles had 10 different players score against Cochranton (16-10) but only two — Katie Sieg (11) and Megan Sieg (14) — finished in double figures.

“We're back to our old selves again,” Cleary said. “One of our plans was to get back to who we were. That's the way we played all season, and we wanted to get back to that because it provides the starters with a lot of great minutes and there's no drop-off when the next group goes in.”

What helped was that Serra Catholic was able to turn up the defensive pressure and never shut it down. Cochranton turned the ball over 29 times, including 10 in the third quarter when the Eagles opened the second half on a 9-0 run and extended their lead to 54-32.

“I didn't expect the press to be that effective, not at this level. But the one thing that Cochranton did well was that, for the most part, they covered back or we could have had a lot more because they really did choke off our break after the turnovers,” Cleary said. “I think in the third quarter we really came out with a vengeance and pushed the game in our favor.”

Serra Catholic will need that kind of defensive play in its next game when it takes on District 6 champion Bishop Guilfoyle (25-2), which rolled over District 9 fourth-place finisher Johnsonburg, 47-26. The Marauders, who will take on the Eagles at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Indiana High School, are led by a pair of 5-foot-8 senior guards and Division I recruits: future Sienna Saints signee Haylee Adams and Kayla Bates, who is headed to Mount St. Mary's.

Preparing to defend two unseen top-flight players with their pedigree certainly will take a lot of preparation.

“I know some people I can talk to,” Cleary said. “I'll be looking at some tape.”

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