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Serra Catholic girls down California in WPIAL semifinals

| Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, 10:57 p.m.
Ronald Vezzani Jr. | for the Tribune Review
Serra Catholic's Megan Sieg attempts to steal the ball from California's Kylie Huffman during a WPIAL Class A semifinal Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at Baldwin.
Ronald Vezzani Jr. | For the Tribune-Review
Serra Catholic's Lauren Czerwien drives past California defenders during the WPIAL Class A semifinal game on Wednesday, February 26, 2014, at Baldwin.
Ronald Vezzani Jr. | For the Tribune-Review
California's Katharina Pankratz goes for a shot attempt against Serra Catholic during the WPIAL Class A semifinal game on Wednesday, February 26, 2014, at Baldwin.
Ronald Vezzani Jr. | For the Tribune-Review
Serra Catholic and California tip off to start the WPIAL Class A semifinal game on Wednesday, February 26, 2014, at Baldwin. Review
Ronald Vezzani Jr. | For the Tribune-Review
Serra Catholic's Danielle Dindak drives toward the hoop against California during the WPIAL Class A semifinal game on Wednesday, February 26, 2014, at Baldwin.
Ronald Vezzani Jr. | For the Tribune-Review
California's Brooke Clements drives toward the hoop against Serra Catholic's Danielle Dindak during the WPIAL Class A semifinal game on Wednesday, February 26, 2014, at Baldwin.
Ronald Vezzani Jr. | For the Tribune-Review
Serra Catholic's Leslie Hoye drives past California's Tristen Conway during the WPIAL Class A semifinal game on Wednesday, February 26, 2014, at Baldwin.
Ronald Vezzani Jr. | For the Tribune-Review
Serra Catholic players celebrate their victory over California in a WPIAL Class A semifinal game Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at Baldwin.
Ronald Vezzani Jr. | For the Tribune-Review
California's Tristen Conway drives toward the hoop against Serra Catholic's Lauren Czerwien during the WPIAL Class A semifinal game on Wednesday, February 26, 2014, at Baldwin.

Serra Catholic's Megan Sieg looked at the scoreboard early in the second quarter, and something just didn't look right.

The state-of-the-art scoreboard at Baldwin for Wednesday's Class A semifinal game against California was operating just fine, but the numbers just didn't seem to add up — Serra was trailing California by nearly double figures.

For only the third time all season, No. 2 Serra trailed in a game.

“It's different … we aren't used to it,” Sieg said.

Serra overcame a painfully slow start that had them trailing by as many as nine points and outscored California, 25-7, over the final seven minutes to advance to the Class A championship game for the second consecutive year and the 11th time in school history with a 60-40 win.

Serra (23-2) will take on top-seeded Vincentian (21-3), a 65-41 winner over Quigley, on Saturday at Palumbo Center. It will be a rematch of last year's title game that Vincentian won 53-46.

“We were struggling but we knew we had to continue to play,” Sieg said. “When we were down like that, we just started picking each other up and telling each other that we have a goal this year and that is to get back.”

Sieg did her best to send the Eagles back to the championship game.

Sieg scored 13 of her game-high 16 points in the second half. Sister Katie Sieg added 12, and Nicole Pero and Lauren Czerwien added 10 apiece.

California (19-4) got 14 points and 12 rebounds from freshman Kylie Huffman.

“Tonight we had to play … we really had to play this game,” Serra coach Bill Cleary said. “It felt like we were never safe. It was a long time before that uneasy feeling went away. They were ready to play, and I knew they would be. They were getting easy shots because of hustle, and it was like: ‘We have to play, girls.' ”

California did a good job of making Cleary feel uneasy early in the game. The Trojans raced out to 15-6 lead early in the second quarter behind some easy baskets and some poor shooting by Serra.

“Everything we wanted to do, we did in the first quarter but we just couldn't sustain it,” California coach Chris Minerd said. “Our youth showed up the whole game, and it was a big key.”

Serra was able to get back into the game in the second quarter, holding the Trojans to two points as the teams went into halftime tied at 17-17.

Serra opened a 27-19 lead in the third to have Cal answer to get within 35-33 early in the fourth.

“We knew we had to win,” Sieg said. “There was no question about it, so we had to play to our potential, and that's what we did in the fourth quarter.”

Serra caught fire in the final frame scoring 13 points in a span of 2:13 to turn a 35-33 game into a 48-33 advantage. The key was a trio of 3-pointers by Megan Sieg and a pair by Danielle Dindak in a 54-second span.

Megan Sieg's steal and pass from her backside to Czerwien for a 3-point play with just more than two minutes left sealed the game for Serra.

Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at mkaboly@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MarkKaboly_Trib.

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