Top-seeded Seton-La Salle girls eliminate West Shamokin in first round of Class AA playoffs
There was no stunning upset to be had for West Shamokin, but the Wolves didn't let themselves get mowed over by Class AA's top team.
No. 1 Seton-La Salle started its path toward a repeat appearance in the WPIAL final by pulling away from No. 16 West Shamokin in the second quarter of a 61-33 win in a Class AA first-round game Tuesday at West Allegheny.
Shaunay Edmonds scored 11 points, and Yacine Diop added 10 for the Rebels (19-4), who advanced to face No. 8 Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in the quarterfinals Friday.
Kelly Clowser led all scorers with 12, and Lizzy Cornish added nine for West Shamokin (13-11), which finishes the season after recording a school record for wins and the program's second-ever postseason win last week.
The Wolves trailed 14-6 after the first quarter but could have been much closer if they had cashed in on a number of second-chance opportunities. West Shamokin attacked the glass against the much taller Rebels and finished with a 33-27 edge on the boards.
“We said coming in here that we don't want to back down from them, and no matter what the score was, we were going to fight,” West Shamokin coach Judd McCullough said. “We played with a lot of toughness and character, and we tried to rise to the challenge as best we could.”
West Shamokin spread the floor against Seton-La Salle and tried to use hard, quick cuts to get open. That strategy forced the Rebels out of their comfort zone at first, but Seton-La Salle's defense led to it opening the second quarter with a 13-0 run on the way to a 41-13 halftime lead.
“You have to give a ton of credit to West Shamokin. We're a talented team, but they came out with a perfect game plan and made us have to get better at a couple of things,” Seton-La Salle coach Spencer Stefko said.
One unusual matchup was the Rebels having their center, Pitt recruit Naje Gibson, defend Clowser, the Wolves point guard.
While Gibson's length made it difficult for Clowser to bring the ball upcourt, it also helped create the offensive rebounding chances for West Shamokin by pulling her away from the rim.
“We thought that was a good matchup for us, and we trusted our other kids to take care of the paint,” Stefko said. “(Clowser) is a hell of a player, and we knew we needed someone with some length on her.”
McCullough praised his seven seniors for helping the program earn back-to-back playoff berths for the first time.
“I owe a lot to that senior group,” McCullough said. “When I got the job two years ago, I told them I'd work hard for them if they wanted to work hard for me, and they exceeded all my expectations in terms of commitment and effort.”