Humbled Burrell ready to rebound in state playoffs
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Burrell plans to pay for any success it has in the state playoffs with the patience from its first defeat of the season.
Burrell (25-1) was outraced from the opening tip in Friday's WPIAL Class AA girls basketball championship game against Seton-La Salle, but the Lady Buccaneers didn't sulk around the hallways of Palumbo Center afterward.
Instead, they shrugged their shoulders, gave Seton-La Salle its props and asked, “When's our next game?”
The team reassembled for practice Saturday and began to prepare for the PIAA playoffs, set to begin March 7.
Don't get the wrong idea, Burrell wasn't content with the mostly one-sided defeat. Like the Kiski Area boys after a blowout loss to New Castle in the WPIAL semifinals, it was simply a case of one team shaking its head at the other's immense talent.
You may have the resume to play at the highest level, but you don't always get the job.
“It's disappointing coming out and playing like that; we hoped for a better showing,” Burrell coach Meghan Ziemianski said. “But we're not done. My brother (assistant coach) Zach's team went undefeated (in section) when he played and they lost and their season was over. They were done. We're still going.”
Burrell struggled with Seton-La Salle's pressure defense and never settled into its offense in a turnover-riddled final that probably will be more of a blur than a warm and fuzzy experience for the Bucs.
But the basketball postseason in Western Pennsylvania offers second-chance hope for teams that don't get the opportunity to squint from popping flashbulbs and celebrate a championship.
“That was kind of shocking to us,” Burrell senior Kelsey Oddis said after the 55-34 loss to Seton-La Salle (22-4), the top-ranked Class AA team in the state all season. “We hadn't seen a team like that.”
Burrell will play the District 9 runner-up Clarion-Limestone (16-9) in the first round of the PIAA tournament.
Burrell knows one loss doesn't define the winningest season in program history.
Last year, Burrell was eliminated in the district semifinals by Bishop Canevin, 55-19, but went on to win back-to-back state playoff games before falling to Bishop Canevin again — in a much closer game — in the PIAA quarterfinals.
Burrell remembers what it felt like to hit the reset button. The championship game could serve as a wake-up call to a team that had its checklist interrupted and its confidence jarred.
“It makes you realize that we have to get better as a team, but also as individuals,” Burrell sophomore forward Natalie Myers said. “I know I can play better than that. We have to prepare ourselves to start another run (in the playoffs).”
Burrell would have to make it to the state semifinals for a potential rematch with Seton-La Salle, a team seasoned that basketball observers in attendance Friday said could compete for a championship in Quad A.
“We have to go over our mistakes,” Oddis said, “and learn from them.”
Burrell senior guard Jaila Manga could be a question mark for the first round. In Friday's final, she suffered a cut on the top of her head that required three staples. The quick procedure was done during the game. Manga left Palumbo, her uniform bloodied, was driven drove down the street to Mercy Hospital by Duquesne security, and returned for the final 30 seconds.
“They had me filling out paperwork and it took forever,” Manga said. “I'm like, ‘Can I please leave?'”
Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Belle Vernon coach’s family bonds through basketball
- Norwin girls basketball team already working for next season
- Penn-Trafford boys continuing to grow