Unbeaten Burrell girls basketball team gets Class AA No. 2 seed

Bill West
| Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, 11:48 p.m.

As soon as she heard WPIAL executive director Tim O'Malley conclude the boys and girls basketball playoff pairings meeting Tuesday night at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Green Tree, Burrell girls coach Meghan Ziemianski headed to the lectern where O'Malley stood.

No, Ziemianski didn't want to complain about the Bucs' seeding in the Class AA tournament — she found Burrell's No. 2 seed quite satisfying, particularly once she looked at who else sat on the Bucs' side of the 25-team bracket.

Ziemianski strode over to O'Malley so she could correct an erroneous announcement made by the director, who, prior to releasing the pairings, declared New Castle's boys team to be the only unbeaten program left in the WPIAL.

“When they said, ‘One,' we were like, what?” Ziemianski said.

Apparently Burrell's 22-0 regular-season record slipped WPIAL officials' minds. That reality should add even more fuel to the fire for the Bucs, who plan to follow up a 2012-13 campaign in which they reached the WPIAL semifinals and PIAA quarterfinals by claiming titles this season.

Returning WPIAL finalist and PIAA semifinalist Seton-La Salle (18-4) received the No. 1 seed.

Burrell will begin its postseason against the winner of the preliminary-round game between Charleroi (17-5) and Shenango (12-9) next Tuesday at a site and time to be determined.

The Bucs ended the first perfect regular-season record in program history with a spate of blowout wins. Their margin of victory was at least 10 points in all but five games.

A 63-61 comeback win over Class AAA Mt. Pleasant (14-8) on Saturday served as a reality check for Burrell.

“That last glimmer at the end of that game, that helped,” Ziemianski, whose Bucs rallied from an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter. “The 3 12 quarters prior to that, not so much. But if you think about it, (the Bucs) are winners, and that just goes to show it.”

Fox Chapel coach Meghan Meabon hopes a similarly humbling game might lead to sharper performances from her players in the postseason. The Foxes (17-4), who won Section 2-AAAA and received the No. 3 seed, lost to Plum, 33-29, on Feb. 4 in their final section game of the season.

“If it was going to happen, it happened at a great time,” said Meabon, whose Foxes will play No. 14 Pine-Richland (14-8) in the first round Tuesday at a site and time to be determined. “We knew we had things to work on all season, and when you get that ‘L' up there, you pay a little more attention to them.”

In Class A, St. Joseph (18-4) grabbed the No. 4 seed and will play No. 13 Jefferson-Morgan (12-10) in the first round at noon Saturday at Elizabeth Forward. WPIAL officials thought highly of Section 2-A; the Spartans received the No. 4 seed despite finishing third in the section standings. First-place finisher and defending WPIAL champ Vincentian Academy (18-3) earned the No. 1 spot, while second-place finisher North Catholic (15-7) received the No. 3 seed.

“I thought they gave St. Joseph exactly what we deserved,” said coach Sally Ackerman, whose Spartans beat North Catholic, 80-66, on Feb. 3. “Because of the way the section ran out, with us able to beat North, and North able to beat Vincentian, that really helped us.”

St. Joseph has not lost since Jan. 16, and only one of its past 10 wins was by fewer than 10 points.

“(The North Catholic win) opened their eyes,” Ackerman said of her players. “They knew they were decent and that they were a good team. After that game, they realized they can play with anybody.”

Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at wwest@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BWest_Trib.

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