High school basketball notebook: Burrell chasing perfection
The Burrell girls basketball team has a 22-game winning streak at home, but its a road win that stands between the Lady Bucs and their 22nd win — and perfection.
They can cap a perfect regular season by beating Mt. Pleasant in the Westmoreland County Hoopfest at Greensburg Salem.
Such an accomplishment hasn't graced Alle-Kiski Valley girls basketball since Apollo-Ridge went 21-0 in 1992-93. The Lady Vikings fell to Serra Catholic in the WPIAL semifinals and South Huntingdon in the PIAA first round to finish 22-2.
Despite being on the doorstep of an undefeated run, Burrell coach Meghan Ziemianski would rather talk about something else.
Ziemianski is more superstitious and fidgity than Wade Boggs on opening night when it comes to her team's pursuit of perfection.
“Don't want to talk about it; don't want to jinx it,” she said. “We don't talk about (going undefeated). Honestly, the girls just go out and play.”
And win. Impressively.
With every participant back from a WPIAL final four team that won two PIAA playoff games and finished 24-4, you'll pardon Burrell if it has higher-shelf goals than 22-0.
“Going undefeated was one of our goals coming into this year, but we need to continue on focusing one game at a time so we can accomplish our ultimate goal,” junior point guard Sydney Bordonaro said. “It raises the bar and motivates all of us to work harder.”
Burrell is ranked No. 2 in WPIAL Class AA and No. 3 in the state, so its expected to pack for an extended stay in the postseason.
Burrell has maimed most of its competition. While allowing just 30.6 points — the second-lowest average in WPIAL Class AA — it has won by an average of 28.3 points, including an elastic 36.1 margin against Section 1-AA teams.
The schedule includes three wins over Class AAAA teams, including Fox Chapel and State College, and five against Class AAA competition.
The last Alle-Kiski boys team to complete a regular season undefeated was Freeport in 2001-02. The Yellowjackets finished 20-0 but lost to South Fayette in the first round of the WPIAL tournament.
Win and you're in
The Fox Chapel boys have a 15-5 record and started the season ranked No. 10 in the state in Quad A, but the Foxes suddenly could miss the WPIAL playoffs. They must beat Central Catholic on Friday on the road to clinch.
Fox Chapel beat Central, 79-66, in the teams' first meeting.
In Class A, Leechburg (8-10) is on the playoff bubble. It can qualify with a win over St. Joseph and a Trinity Christian loss to Winchester Thurston.
Mr. Robinson's neighborhood
Another WPIAL postseason is about to begin, and a familiar face will return to the annual playoff pairings meeting Tuesday in Green Tree.
St. Joseph boys coach Kelly Robinson is set to make his 12th straight playoff trip, and 14th in his 16 years of coaching the Spartans.
This year's group has been unique in that it doesn't have a 1,000-point scorer — Robinson has coached nine — and made the playoffs despite losing a key starter early in the season, John Ferguson, to a broken hand.
“I have been blessed,” Robinson said. “It's been a lot of fun; this has been a fun group to coach. I know making the playoffs is a privelage. You look around the Valley and there are only X amount of teams that make it in so many times.”
For a good cause
Tournaments ususally are reserved for the start of the season or holiday time, but Shady Side Academy is hosting one Saturday to close out the regular season.
Two local teams are involved. Springdale plays Beaver at 3 p.m. and St. Joseph plays Winchester Thurston at 6 p.m. in the 12-team Breast Cancer Awareness Classic.
Proceeds benefit the Magee-Womens Breast Cancer Program, Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the Shady Side girls basketball program.
A unique sidenote: coaches have been urged to wear pink slippers.
Fox Chapel stars Brian Papich and Erin Mathias are on the verge of joining the 1,000-point club. Papich needs 25 points and Mathias 18 to reach the career milestone.
Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.