Roundup: California girls continue historic season, aim for WPIAL title game
The magic of California Area's historic girls' basketball season will continue Wednesday night and beyond, thanks to what Lady Trojans coach Chris Minerd called “the biggest win in the program's history” Saturday afternoon.
California (19-3) moved into a WPIAL Class A semifinal final game against Serra and earned the first PIAA berth in the school's history by knocking off Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic, 45-43, in a quarterfinal game at Peters Township.
The Lady Trojans and Lady Eagles will play for a berth to the WPIAL title game at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Baldwin.
“We just continue to make history,” Minerd said after his team's huge win. “We won the second section title in the school's history. We won the first playoff game in the school's history and now we are going to the state playoffs for the first time ever. It really hasn't set in yet. But first, I would like to take care of business Wednesday and get to the WPIAL title game.”
California won in impressive fashion, overcoming a five-point deficit with 1:10 to play against North Catholic (16-8).
The winning rally started with a three-pointer by Tristen Conaway with 1:00 left that made it 41-39.
After NC's Abby Goetz hit two free throws to make it 43-39, freshman Jenna Miller hit her fourth three-pointer of the game to make it 43-42 with 48 seconds left.
Freshman Kylie Huffman gave Cal a 44-43 lead when she calmly sank two free throws with 40 seconds left.
The Trojanettes turned the ball over with 11 seconds left and Huffman made one of two foul shots with 10 seconds to play to make it 45-43.
NC had one last chance to at least send the game into overtime, but Sam Breen was stripped of the ball with two seconds left, setting off a wild celebration by the Lady Trojans and their fans.
However, when Evelyn Brazil made one of two free throws with 1:10 left to put NC up by five points, the situation looked hopeless for Cal.
But not to Minerd, who called timeout to settle his team.
“I told the girls it's a two possession game. We need to hit a three and play defense and get the ball back and Tristen and Jenna hit the two biggest three-pointers of their lives,” Minerd said. “Our girls showed so much poise down the stretch, I just can't say how proud I am.”
Miller led California with 18 points while Conaway had 14 and Huffman nine.
NC, which didn't have any players hit double figures, made 10 of 11 free throws in the fourth quarter.
“Today we definitely grew up,” said an emotional Minerd. “We are so young, but don't forget the way our only senior (Conaway) played. She had maybe the best game of her career. This was the biggest win in the program's history and I'm not sure many people expected us to pull it off.”
West Mifflin 44,Ringgold 33
In a Class AAA quarterfinal at Peters Township, the Lady Titans (18-5) won the rubber match against the Lady Rams (13-10).
The two section rivals split their two games before Saturday.
West Mifflin used an 8-0 run during a five-minute dry spell by Ringgold in the fourth quarter to open up a 37-25 lead.
“You can't win a game when you don't score and we must have missed 30 layups,” said Ringgold coach Laura Grimm.
But the Lady Rams never gave up and hustled until the end.
“I'm beyond proud of these girls,” Grimm said. “They, I think, by anyone's expectations over-achieved. But this one is a little bit bitter because I know we can beat this team.”
Bailey Cooper led Ringgold with 13 points, 11 in the second half. Kara Foster added 10 points and Marlena Schmidt had seven points, 16 rebounds and seven blocked shots.
Ringgold can still get into the PIAA playoffs if West Mifflin advances to the WPIAL title game.
“What they accomplished this season, I don't even think they imagined it at the beginning,” Grimm said.
West Mifflin was led by Ciara Patterson with 13 points and Taylor Thomas with 11.
West Mifflin will play top-seeded Blackhawk in the semifinals Wednesday.
Elizabeth Forward 72, Central Valley 47
EF (20-3) advanced to the semifinals in Class AAA against South Park (20-4) with the easy quarterfinal win.
The EF-South Park contest will be played 6 p.m. Wednesday at Chartiers Valley.
Abigail Sporio led the way 21 points for EF while Kylie Owoc had 17 and Olivia Barkley added 12.
Central Valley got a game-high 32 points from Kiana Law.
Vincentian 60,Frazier 21
The Lady Commodores' season came to an abrupt end against the No. 1 seeded Lady Royals (20-3) in the Class A quarterfinals.
Frazier (16-6) fell behind 24-5 in the first quarter and never recovered.
Vincentian was led by Brenna Wise with 15 points.
Lauren Timko looked best for Frazier with nine.
Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or firstname.lastname@example.org.