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Burrell holds off Mt. Pleasant to remain unbeaten

Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Burrell's Sydney Bordonaro shoots past three Mt. Pleasant defenders during the Westmoreland County Coaches Association Hoopfest on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014 at Greensburg Salem. Burrell won 63-61.

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By George Guido
Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014, 8:06 p.m.

Burrell's quest for an undefeated regular season was nearly derailed Saturday by Mt. Pleasant.

Down by 11 points with 2:12 left in the third period, the Bucs rallied behind junior Sydney Bordonaro in the fourth and came away with a 63-61 victory.

Bordonaro scored 13 of her 35 points in the fourth period. And Burrell could only watch as an open 3-point attempt by the Vikings came up short just before the final buzzer.

Burrell, 22-0, is ranked second in the Trib Total Media Class AA poll after posting the school's first unblemished regular season.

Mt. Pleasant, co-champion of Section 3-AAA with Indiana, concluded its regular season at 14-8.

The game was part of the Westmoreland County Coaches Association's Hoopfest at Greensburg Salem High School.

“I think that fourth quarter showed what kind of team we are,” Bordonaro said. “We work hard on our defense and we didn't do that in the first half. We're ready for the playoffs.”

“They knew what they needed to do to step up,” said Bucs coach Meghan Ziemianski. “We practiced for it, we just weren't executing. We're fortunate because a few times this year we came out slow. They're winners. They'll find a way.”

Burrell's fourth-quarter rally offset an outstanding performance by Mt. Pleasant junior guard Alexa Szelong, who poured in 35 points.

Szelong scored 20 points in the first half alone, eclipsing her season's average of 17.7 points per game by intermission.

The Vikings took an early 12-2 lead and were in front 35-30 at the half. Burrell managed just six rebounds in the first half.

“In the first half, we didn't give second-chance shots,” said Mt. Pleasant coach Scott Giacobbi. “We did a super job on the glass, but we let them sneak back in. We also got slightly bothered by their press until we could regroup. But by that time they had gotten some momentum.”

After the Vikings increased their lead to 48-37 late in the third period, Mt. Pleasant was held one field goal over a nearly seven-minute span.

Burrell finally took the lead 54-53 as the Bucs began to find Natalie Myers in the paint after the sophomore was held to just a single basket for more than three quarters.

A steal by Bordonaro in the backcourt put Burrell ahead 56-53 with 4:22 to go.

But two consecutive baskets by Szelong kept Mt. Pleasant close.

Morgan Barlock's 3-pointer with 14 seconds left brought the Vikings to within 62-61.

Bordonaro was fouled in the backcourt just before getting off a pass. She made one of two from the line, and Mt. Pleasant headed downcourt quickly.

Barlock retreated behind the arc on the right side parallel to foul line, but her shot came up short.

“We got a look, but things don't go entirely as you draw them up,” Giacobbi said.

“Even when we get down, they lean on each other,” Ziemianski said of her team. “We never fight, we never argue.”

Myers finished with nine of Burrell's 22 rebounds.

Mt. Pleasant also received good work from sophomore reserve forward Katie Biller, who had 10 points.

George Guido is a freelance writer.

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