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A-K Valley PIAA girls basketball playoff preview capsules

Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch - Burrell's Jessica Cercone attempts to score against Clarion-Limestone's Abby Mellott during a PIAA Class AA first-round playoff game Friday, March 7, 2014, at North Hills.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Erica Dietz  |  Valley News Dispatch</em></div>Burrell's Jessica Cercone attempts to score against Clarion-Limestone's Abby Mellott during a PIAA Class AA first-round playoff game Friday, March 7, 2014, at North Hills.
- Fox Chapel's Kaya Slovenec drives to the hoop toward McDowell's Marissa Molnar during the third quarter of a PIAA Class AAAA girls high school basketball first round game at Mercyhurst University in Erie on March 7. Fox Chapel won the game 48-36. ANDY COLWELL/
Fox Chapel's Kaya Slovenec drives to the hoop toward McDowell's Marissa Molnar during the third quarter of a PIAA Class AAAA girls high school basketball first round game at Mercyhurst University in Erie on March 7. Fox Chapel won the game 48-36. ANDY COLWELL/

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'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
 

Tuesday's games Class AAAA

Fox Chapel (20-5) vs. Hempfield (18-9)

6 p.m. Tuesday at Gateway

Winner plays: North Allegheny (23-2)/State College (18-7) winner on Friday (time, site TBD).

Layup lines: Fox Chapel picked up its first state playoff victory since 2009 and secured its first 20-win season with a 48-36 victory over Erie McDowell on Friday. The Foxes made 23 of 26 free throws, including all 14 of their attempts in the second half. One would think these WPIAL teams have met recently but that's not the case. They haven't played since 2009 when Fox Chapel beat the Spartans, 51-29, in Hempfield's holiday tournament. Foxes' 6-foot-3 senior center Erin Mathias averages 16.2 points and 10 rebounds a game and continues to provide matchup issues for opponents. Freshman Gaby Badway and sophomores Kayla Slovenec and Taylor Cohen once again will get tested in the backcourt, but they've showed poise all season. ... WPIAL runner-up Hempfield has gotten used to fast starts — it led Obama Academy, 18-0, on the way to a 54-33 win in its PIAA first-round game — but blew a 15-point second-half lead against Penn-Trafford in the WPIAL title game. Senior guard Monica Burns is one of the top shooters in Quad-A. She averages 20.1 points.

Class AA

Burrell (26-1) vs. Bellwood-Antis (24-3)

6 p.m. Tuesday at Indiana

Winner plays: Tussey Mountain (24-1)/General McLane (23-3) winner on Friday (time, site TBD).

Layup lines: Burrell's only loss came in the WPIAL championship game (55-34 against Seton-La Salle), but the Bucs continue to use the good-but-not-good enough mantra as they battle slow starts to games. The team was sluggish early in the first round against Clarion-Limestone, but rolled in the second half for a 55-27 win. Junior point guard Sydney Bordonaro (16.4 ppg) scored a game-high 18 points and broke the school's career scoring record in the process. She has 1,159 points in just under three full seasons. She is averaging 18 a game in the playoffs and has made 13 3s. Last year, Bordonaro scored 27 in a 65-46 first-round win over Bellwood-Antis. Burrell's senior trio of Jaila Manga, Jessica Cercone and Pitt-Greensburg recruit Kelsey Oddis continue to lead a young group that also consists of rising sophomore Natalie Myers, who has produced 14.2 points and 10 rebounds a game in the playoffs, and junior guard Erika Finn, who started the last game but sprained her ankle. Burrell has attempted just three free throws in its last two games combined. ... District 6 champion Bellwood-Antis averages 70 points, the highest scoring average Burrell will have seen all year. The Blue Devils have topped 75 points 13 times this season, and scored 99 and 92 in blowout wins. Three players average in double figures, junior Ana Hollen (16.0), freshman Karsen Swogger (15.8) and junior Kelly Leamer (10.5). Hollen scored 12 against Burrell last year.

—Bill Beckner Jr.

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