TJ girls sweep past Ambridge in WPIAL playoffs
TribLIVE Sports Videos
In one of the most evenly matched preliminary round games of the WPIAL Class AAA girls basketball playoffs, Thomas Jefferson outlasted Ambridge, 50-36, on Saturday afternoon at North Allegheny, much to the surprise of Jaguars coach Phil Shar.
“I thought this was going to come down to the last possession,” Shar said. “Us winning by 14? I'm like shocked.”
With almost identical records, both teams entered the playoffs on similar paths, competing in tough sections, which got them big-game experience.
The only major difference was that Ambridge (13-10) made the playoffs a year ago, while Thomas Jefferson (13-9) failed to reach 10 victories.
But it was the Jaguars who gained the lead by the end of the first quarter and never lost it.
“We were very, very patient with the ball,” TJ guard Paige Risley said. “We didn't force anything. We took very good shots.”
Risley finished with six points on two long 3-pointers and added five rebounds as TJ's motor, while teammate Haley Kutscher scored a game-high 13 points, including a 3-pointer before the half to give the Jaguars a 26-18 lead at half.
“I think we were nervous (early on),” TJ guard Alexis Yanief said.
“Once the nerves were gone, we settled down and did our thing.”
With the initial playoff nerves behind them, the Jaguars opened up a 32-22 lead midway through the third quarter.
Unlike the first half, Thomas Jefferson was able to work the ball low and score easy points in the paint.
“It was hard to get inside (early). We were taking a lot of 15- and 18-footers,” Shar said.
“Once they came out we were smart enough to throw it inside.”
Every Bridgers comeback attempt was answered.
“They kept trying to fight back, but it seemed like every time we fought back we gave up a little bit,” Ambridge coach Nikki Santiago said.
Yanief, who entered the game averaging 16 points, scored 12 points, while Courtney Zoglmann added 12 of her own, mostly on layups.
Sydney Rabold led Ambridge with 13 points, including three 3-pointers.
With the win, Thomas Jefferson hopes momentum will carry over for its first-round game with third-seeded South Park (18-4) on Wednesday at a site and time to be determined.
“It really boosts morale,” Risley said. “It makes us even more ready to play South Park.”
Justin Criado is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Sarra has made a career out of achieving
- Quaker Valley boys basketball puts in summer work
- Seneca Valley summer basketball camp proves successful
- Shady Side Academy’s Groff brothers set for Maccabi Games
- Norwin girls basketball win McKeesport summer league
- Rain halts Grebb League openers
- Plum Mustangs hoops squads take advantage of summer gym time