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Burrell girls to begin PIAA championship quest

| Wednesday, March 5, 2014, 10:03 p.m.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Burrell's Erika Finn dribbles during the WPIAL Class AA girls basketball championship Friday, February 28, 2014, at Palumbo Center. The Rebels won 55-34.

All season long, Burrell junior point guard Sydney Bordonaro has talked about her team's goals. No secrets here.

The team could have put those goals on a billboard along Puckety Church Road.

Get one done, cross it off and move on to the next.

Section title.

Undefeated regular season.

WPIAL championship.

State championship.

While the checklist hit a snag last Friday night in the WPIAL Class AA championship game against Seton-La Salle at Palumbo Center, the Buccaneers (25-1) seem undeterred as they prepare for the PIAA playoffs and begin moving toward their final goal.

They open the state tournament at 6 p.m. Friday against District 9 runner-up Clarion-Limestone (16-9) at North Hills.

“We didn't play our game Friday, we played Seton's,” Bordonaro said. “Our coaches prepared us for what was going to happen, and we didn't execute the way we needed to.”

Burrell has admitted to struggling with slow starts this season, and the WPIAL final was no different as the team fell behind 11-0 and didn't score until late in the first quarter in a 55-34 loss to highly touted Seton-La Salle.

Suffocating defensive pressure forced Burrell to commit 25 turnovers. This is a team that can take three or four games to get that many.

But the fact remains that Burrell still is one of the most talented teams in the state, and now has a second chance to prove it.

“We're all so close; we're like a family,” Bordonaro said. “None of us want this season to be over. So we will play as hard as we can and try to win a state championship.”

Clarion-Limestone is coached by Doug Rodgers, the former head coach of the Deer Lakes girls. Clarion-Limestone lost to Karns City, 47-22, in the District 9 title game.

The Lions had not been to the district final since 1994, so the PIAA tournament will be a relatively new experience.

“We hadn't been here playing for a championship on this stage before, there was definitely some nerves on the part of the girls,” Rodgers said after the team's last game. “The nice thing is we have a week to work on things and we've got Burrell, which I understand is a very similar team to Karns City — get after you full court. This is the bonus round. This is fun; we haven't been here in a while.”

Burrell showed resiliency last season after bowing out of the WPIAL playoffs. It went farther than any team in school history, bouncing back from a semifinal loss to Bishop Canevin before reaching the third round of the state tournament and falling to the same team.

Burrell finished 24-4 last year, but has surpassed the school record for wins this season and is looking for more.

Clarion-Limestone doesn't consider depth a strength, but does get balanced scoring on a regular basis.

Three players average in double figures: Lily Port (12.8 ppg), Abby Mellott (12.7) and Alissa Burns (11.3).

Bordonaro averages 16.4 points and has made 58 3-pointers. Sophomore forward Natalie Myers averages 12.9 points.

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