Top-seeded Vincentian stands in way of Serra Catholic girls' goal
Serra Catholic beat Clairton by 61 and 58 points earlier in the year.
The Eagles held Monessen to 12 and 15 points the two times the longtime rivals played.
In January, Serra invoked the mercy rule in eight of its 10 games and won nine of those by an average of 52 points. In three playoff games, the Eagles won by 28, 50 and 20 points.
You get the point?
Serra's Superman-like effort over the past three months has put the Eagles back in the Class A championship for the 11th time in school history and for the second consecutive season Saturday at Palumbo Center, where their kryptonite awaits — top-seeded Vincentian Academy.
Serra (23-2) has lost its last six games to Vincentian (21-3), including last year's title game, and the Royals are responsible for half of the Eagles six losses over the past two seasons.
“Yeah, I am aware of that,” Serra coach Bill Cleary said. “Thing is, they have been a very good team for a while now. In most cases, they have been better than us. But who knows? Let's see what happens.”
Serra may just have the motivation to take home its first WPIAL title in nearly a decade and prevent Vincentian of being the first Class A team to three-peat since Avonworth 20 years ago.
“They have been our goal,” senior point guard Megan Sieg said. “We wanted them. That has been our goal since last year. We wanted to get back here, but getting back here wasn't our goal. It was winning it all.”
To do that, Serra is going to have to find a way to slow down 6-foot junior forward Brenna Wise. Wise is approaching 2,000 career points and is averaging 18.5 per game but has saved some of her best efforts for Serra.
In three career games against the Eagles, Wise is averaging 23 points and 18 rebounds, which includes a dominant effort three months ago, when Wise had 31 points, 18 rebounds, five steals, three assists and was 18 of 19 from the foul line.
“She does affect the game in many different ways,” said Cleary, who has a 547-149 record in 27 years at Serra. “We have to be aware of her on every possession offensively and defensively. Even if she is not scoring, she is doing something else.”
But don't expect Cleary to use many junk defenses against Wise. Teams have used some exotic ones against her over the past couple years with limited success.
“You toy with every possibility and see how it works,” Cleary said. “Sometimes when you do that, it blows up in your face. Junk defenses are sometimes not a great option. It could be a nice curveball for a little while, but I don't know how that can last all game.”
Wise has seen it all, too.
“Box-and-ones, double teams, triple teams. They throw it all at her,” Vincentian coach Ron Moncrief said.
While Wise is the main scorer for Vincentian (Torrieonna Cash averages 10.1 ppg), Serra goes with more of a team approach.
Serra's starters — Megan Sieg, Katie Sieg, Nicole Pero, Leslie Hoye, Danielle Dindak — average between 10 to 12 points.
In three playoff games, Serra had seven players score between 10 to 16 points.
“We would sure like to win one more,” Cleary said. “It would mean a lot to the girls. They did the runner-up thing last year, so they would like to come out on top this time.”