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Seton-La Salle defense leads the way in PIAA second-round win over GCC

| Tuesday, March 12, 2013, 10:54 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Seton-La Salle's Angela Heintz (22) and Natalie Piaggesi battle Greensburg Central Catholic's Devon Larkin for a rebound during their PIAA Class AA playoff game Tuesday, March 12, 2013, at Baldwin High School.

It was a 20-point outcome. Neither coach was happy. Yet defending PIAA Class AA girls basketball champion Seton-La Salle marches on.

Natalie Piaggesi scored 18 points and Naje Gibson added 15 to lead the Rebels to a 58-38 victory over Greensburg Central Catholic in a second-round game Tuesday night at Baldwin High School, advancing WPIAL runner-up Seton-La Salle to Friday's quarterfinals against Mohawk.

“We got a better test tonight than in our first-round game,” Seton-La Salle coach John Ashaolu said, referring to the Rebels' 67-16 rout of District 9 runner-up Kane last Friday. “They made it tough for us at times under the basket, but I don't think anyone played particularly well for us. I want a better performance at this time of the year. This is the state playoffs.”

Seton-La Salle (26-2), which lost to Bishop Canevin in the WPIAL championship game on March 1, built a 21-point halftime lead, taking advantage of a smothering, full-court press that forced GCC (18-8) into a string of turnovers.

The game was a rematch of Seton-La Salle's 66-53 victory over GCC in the WPIAL quarterfinals Feb. 22.

“They're a good team, but we're a good team, too,” first-year GCC coach Chris Kallock said.

“We've gotten better throughout the playoffs. I thought this game would be a lot closer. I thought it might be decided in the fourth quarter.”

The Centurions found a spark in the second half, outscoring Seton-La Salle, 28-27, but it was too late to overcome their huge deficit.

“We looked a little nervous in the first half,” Kallock said. “Too many turnovers against their press.”

Gibson scored three times in close for Seton-La Salle, turning steals off inbounds passes into easy baskets. It happened twice near the end of the second quarter.

“Those were huge baskets for them,” Kallock said. “We should have played smarter.”

After taking a 14-6 first-quarter lead, Seton-La Salle held GCC scoreless for the first 5:55 of the second quarter while rolling to a 31-10 halftime lead. GCC finished the quarter with just four free throws.

“We went into the locker room at halftime quite a bit surprised that we were 21 points down,” Kallock said.

The game started 25 minutes late when officials learned that the clock in the Baldwin gym was malfunctioning. Both games of a doubleheader were moved to an adjacent, smaller, auxiliary gym.

The second game featured Mt. Lebanon and Penn-Trafford in a second-round Class AAAA matchup.

As if things couldn't have become more bizarre, GCC — the home team — was hit with a technical foul to start the game for wearing road uniforms.

Senior Devon Larkin led the Centurions with nine points.

While Kallock was visibly bothered by the night, he praised GCC's players for their otherwise successful season.

“There's a lot of positives to come out of this,” he said. “We won 18 games with a new coach and three sophomores in the lineup. The girls kept it together all year. We're going to be tough next year.”

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

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