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Canevin girls basketball team heading to PIAA tournament

| Wednesday, March 5, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Ronald Vezzani Jr. | For the Tribune-Review
Bishop Canevin's Caroline DeFrank drives toward the hoop against Seton-La Salle during the WPIAL Class AA semifinals Tuesday, February 25, 2014, at Chartiers Valley.

It turned out the third time wasn't the charm for the Bishop Canevin girls basketball team last week.

The Crusaders fell to Section 4-AA rival Seton-La Salle, 62-40, in the WPIAL Class AA semifinals. It was the third time the Rebels downed Bishop Canevin this season after wins Jan. 14 (41-24) and Feb. 6 (63-51).

“They are so athletic and have three Division I players,” Bishop Canevin coach Tim Joyce said. “You almost have to play a perfect game against them. And we didn't do that.”

The Rebels jumped out to an 18-8 lead in the first quarter, but Bishop Canevin responded in the second quarter and cut the Rebels' lead to 24-21 at one point.

But after trailing 28-22 at the break, an 11-2 Rebels run to start the second half put the game out of reach.

“You cannot fall behind like we did in the first quarter,” Joyce said. “You spend so much energy trying to get back even. Let's face it: They are too good to get down like we did.”

Sophomore Becca Turney found success in the paint and led the Crusaders with 14 points. But Bishop Canevin's usual top scorers — Johnie Olkosky and Vallecorsa — were held to a combined eight points.

Naje Gibson led Seton-La Salle with 17 points and nine rebounds. Yachine Diop and Shaunay Edmonds each scored 15.

The Rebels — led by former Chartiers Valley coach Spencer Stefko — went on to defeat Burrell for the WPIAL title in a 55-34 blowout.

While Bishop Canevin missed out on playing for a WPIAL title, it still has life. The Crusaders will play District 6 runner-up Juniata in the opening round of the PIAA tournament Friday.

The Indians (26-3) are led by junior Victoria Varner, who averages 18.7 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.7 assists. Seniors Carly Burns (12 points and 7.2 rebounds per game) and Maddie Zendt (11.8 points and 5.7 rebounds per game) are also major parts of the Indians' success.

It is a touch matchup, but Bishop Canevin isn't expecting an early exit. The Crusaders have recorded four straight state playoff appearances and are looking to defend their PIAA title.

“That has been our standard,” Joyce said. “We put the state playoff dates on our schedule at the beginning of the season because it is our expectation to be there.”

Tipoff between Bishop Canevin and Juniata is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday at Moon.

Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at nsmith@tribweb.com or via Twitter @NSmith_Trib.

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