Burrell girls best McGuffey again
It's rare when two WPIAL playoff teams have a quarterfinal rematch for a second straight season, and each team has all five starters return.
McGuffey narrowed the gap compared to last year's game, but Burrell still came out on top Friday night by a 79-68 margin.
Natalie Myers led the Bucs with 23 points and 16 rebounds. Sydney Bordonaro added 23 points.
The Bucs (24-0) will play Greensburg Central Catholic in the semifinals Tuesday at a site and time to be determined.
Burrell is in the semifinals for the second straight season and for the third time in school history. The Bucs also clinched a berth in the PIAA playoffs, which begin March 7.
McGuffey slipped to 20-4.
The Bucs never trailed, but the Highlanders kept within striking distance until the fourth quarter when Burrell opened up an 18-point lead with less than two minutes left.
“We scouted them against an earlier opponent, Brentwood, but we knew they weren't going to play us the same way,” Burrell coach Meghan Ziemianski said. “But that was actually more beneficial because we were playing the same 5-on-5, and they came out in that zone.”
“I'm extremely proud of our girls,” McGuffey coach Amanda Burchett said. “Burrell's ranked second in the WPIAL, and they're an amazing basketball team. We held our own most of the game.”
The Highlanders, who lost to Burrell, 61-41, last season, trailed 18-16 with five seconds left in the first period and had a chance to tie the game. But Bordonaro stole an inbounds pass and scored to put the Bucs ahead by four at the quarter break.
Burrell expanded its lead to 40-31 at halftime. Myers, shut out in the first quarter, tallied five second-quarter field goals, including one on a toss in the key from Bordonaro with three seconds to go before halftime.
Ziemianski's rotation of six players was hampered more than usual by foul trouble. Jessica Cercone and Erika Finn picked up three personal fouls in the first half.
“When one's down, everybody else stepped up. Erika is still valuable coming off the bench for us,” Ziemianski said. “Size-wise, we had to move some people around.”
“We're all so even, and we all step up at different times,” Bordonaro said. “They boxed me in the third quarter, but Natalie came up so big for us. Everyone played so well for us.”
Myers continued her hot shooting in the third period with 10 points, including 4 of 4 from the free-throw line.
Sammie Weiss, the second-leading scorer in Class AA, tallied 29 points and grabbed six rebounds.
McGuffey's season is in limbo. The Highlanders need a Burrell victory Tuesday in order to secure a state playoff berth.
George Guido is a freelance writer.