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Bishop Canevin advances to 1st PIAA title game after topping rival Seton-La Salle

| Tuesday, March 19, 2013, 9:24 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Bishop Canevin's Celina DiPietro (22) celebrates with teammates after defeating Seton-La Salle in their PIAA Class AA semifinal Tuesday, March 19, 2013, at Chartiers Valley High School.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Bishop Canevin's Celina DiPietro (22) celebrates after defeating Seton-La Salle in a PIAA Class AA semifinal Tuesday, March 19, 2013, at Chartiers Valley High School.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Bishop Canevin's Gina Vallecorsa drives to the basket past Seton-La Salle's Angela Heintz during the third quarter of their PIAA Class AA semifinal Tuesday, March 19, 2013, at Chartiers Valley High School.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Bishop Canevin's Carly Forse scores past Seton-La Salle's Natalie Piaggesi during the third quarter of their PIAA Class AA semifinal Tuesday, March 19, 2013, at Chartiers Valley High School.

When the Bishop Canevin girls basketball team took the court to face rival Seton-La Salle in the PIAA Class AA semifinals Tuesday, coach Tim Joyce used a saying from “The Art of War” to describe his squad's mentality: “Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.”

“I think they didn't respect us even after we beat them in the WPIAL title game,” Joyce said. “Despite what the coach from the other team thinks about us, we are a good team. Maybe the fluke was them beating us by 30 in the first game this season.”

Bishop Canevin (26-4) defeated the defending state champion Rebels, 41-36, to punch its ticket to Hershey for the first PIAA Class AA title game appearance in school history.

It was the Crusaders' second win over Seton-La Salle this postseason, after they defeated the section rival Rebels, 56-47, for the WPIAL title on March 1. The wins snapped the Rebels' dominant 8-0 run in the series.

Seton-La Salle took control early in the first quarter, building an 8-2 lead before Bishop Canevin rallied to within two by the end of the quarter, even with senior guard Erin Waskowiak spending time on the bench with three fouls. The Duquesne recruit stayed there for the rest of the first half.

Despite missing one of its senior leaders, Bishop Canevin held a one-point lead at halftime thanks to 10 points from senior forward Carly Forse.

“I think it says something about our kids,” Joyce said. “Nothing bothers them. Alaina McGuire and Caroline DeFrank did a great job. They helped buy us time.”

Seton-La Salle (27-2) took a 26-23 lead after a Nicolete Newman basket midway through the third quarter and led by one to start the fourth.

With the game tied at 31 with four minutes to play, Waskowiak made her presence known, connecting on two free throws to give the Crusaders a lead they wouldn't relinquish. A 3-pointer from Cassidy Walsh cut the deficit to three, but Seton-La Salle was held scoreless in the final 1:06, despite forcing two turnovers and the Crusaders missing two late free throws.

“We missed a lot of things abound the basket,” Seton-La Salle coach John Ashaolu said. “We couldn't put the ball in the hoop. That's what it comes down to. You have to put the ball in the basket more times than they do. We didn't do that.”

Naje Gibson, Angela Heintz and Walsh each had eight points for Seton-La Salle. Bishop Canevin was led by Forse's 17 points. Gina Vallecorse and Celina DiPietro each added 10.

After winning its first WPIAL girls basketball title in school history, the Crusaders will look to capture their first PIAA title at noon Friday against District 3 champ York Catholic (28-1), which defeated St. Basil Academy, 45-28, in the other semifinal.

“It is the best feeling in the world,” Forse said. “I wouldn't want to end my senior year any other way.”

Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at nsmith@tribweb.com or via Twitter @NSmith_Trib.

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