Seton-La Salle girls avenge playoff losses to rival Bishop Canevin, advance to WPIAL title game
To prepare for Tuesday's WPIAL Class AA semifinal against Bishop Canevin, the Seton-La Salle girls basketball team watched a VHS tape that showed the Rebels' loss to the Crusaders in the 2012-13 PIAA Class AA semifinals, played in the same Chartiers Valley gymnasium.
Then, Seton-La Salle's first-year coach Spencer Stefko said, “Someone in the room may have smashed it with a sledgehammer, scattered it all over the room.”
Top-seeded Seton-La Salle took out even more aggression on No. 5 Bishop Canevin with a 62-40 win Tuesday, advancing to the WPIAL Class AA championship game for the sixth consecutive season.
“We remembered what they did to us last year,” Rebels senior Naje Gibson said. “It was a personal game.”
Gibson led Seton-La Salle (21-4) with 17 points and nine rebounds. Yacine Diop added 15 points and Shaunay Edmonds 15.
The Rebels will meet No. 2 seed Burrell in Friday's WPIAL championship game.
Becca Turney scored 14 points for Bishop Canevin (19-6), but the Rebels held Johnie Olkosky and Gina Vallecorsa to a total of eight points — or about 19 less than they usually score.
“We played good defense,” Edmonds said. “We got it done.”
This was the 13th meeting over the past four years between the two Class AA powers, with Seton-La Salle winning 11 times.
Chances are they'll meet again. And if they do, well, at least Stefko doesn't have to reference the tape he popped in for this one.
“That was the only copy we had,” Stefko joked. “Now there's no more copies. That game was just a rumor.”
Seton-La Salle jumped out to an 11-3 lead Tuesday after a layup from Nicolette Newman forced a Bishop Canevin timeout.
Gibson had seven of those points, and the Rebels led, 18-8, after one.
Getting consecutive baskets from Turney and a jumper in the lane for Vallecorsa, Bishop Canevin cut it to 24-21 late in the second quarter.
“We know there were stretches in the first half that showed significant weaknesses on our part,” Stefko said. “We know we have to shore those up.”
Seton-La Salle had a 28-22 lead at the break and increased it to 39-25 when Diop made a beautiful cut to the hoop and Gibson drained a 3-pointer from the right corner midway through the third.
Overall, Seton-La Salle outscored Bishop Canevin, 19-11, in the third quarter to pull away.
“We came out the start of the half and struggled on offense,” Bishop Canevin coach Tim Joyce said. “Then we stopped rebounding.
“They're really athletic. What can you say?”
They were also, evidently, plenty motivated.