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Seton-La Salle girls again get best of rival Bishop Canevin

| Friday, March 14, 2014, 8:39 p.m.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Seton-La Salle's Cassidy Walsh dribbles past Bishop Canevin's Sarah Green during the PIAA Class AA girls basketball playoff game Friday, March 14, 2014, at North Allegheny High School.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Seton-La Salle's Yacine Diop is fouled hard by Bishop Canevin's Johnie Olkosky during the PIAA Class AA girls basketball playoff game Friday, March 14, 2014, at North Allegheny High School.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Seton-La Salle's Shaunay Edmonds pushes the ball upcourt with Bishop Canevin's Sarah Green defending during the PIAA Class AA girls basketball playoff game Friday, March 14, 2014, at North Allegheny High School.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Seton-La Salle's Morgan Henderson tries to snatch a rebound with Bishop Canevin's Caroline DeFrank nearby during the PIAA Class AA girls basketball playoff game Friday, March 14, 2014, at North Allegheny High School. Seton-La Salle wins the game 65-44.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Seton-LaSalle's Shaunay Edmonds blocks a shot by Bishop Canevin's Sarah Green during the PIAA Class AA girls basketball playoff game Friday, March 14, 2014, at North Allegheny High School.

Things couldn't have started much better for Seton-La Salle in the PIAA Class AA quarterfinals.

Playing defending PIAA champion Bishop Canevin, the Rebels broke out to a 16-0 lead by the three-minute mark of the first quarter en route to a 65-44 win.

“We just caught them on an off night,” first-year Seton-La Salle coach Spencer Stefko said. “You don't come in expecting to be up 16-0 against such a talented, well-coached team. To their credit they fought to the end.”

The Crusaders (21-7) didn't have an answer for a ferocious Seton-La Salle press that forced 12 turnovers in the first quarter and held Bishop Canevin scoreless until the 2:49 mark of the opening frame.

“You have to play a perfect game against them, and obviously we didn't,” Bishop Canevin coach Tim Joyce said.

“When you go down, it kind of snowballs. You're trying to stop them. You stabilize for a little bit, and it starts again.”

Seton-La Salle (25-4) continued the pressure throughout the first half and went into the break leading 36-12. Nicolete Newman was a driving force being the WPIAL champion's offense in the first half, scoring 12 of her 15 in the opening quarters.

The junior guard said the Rebels had last season's 41-36 loss to the Crusaders in the PIAA semifinals in the back of their minds.

“We wanted to get revenge for last season,” Newman said. “This is the game we have looked forward to since the beginning of the summer. The first three games mattered, but this was the one that meant the most.”

Seton-La Salle defeated Bishop Canevin, 41-24, and 63-54 during the regular season and 62-40 in the WPIAL semifinals.

“It might be easier to prepare from a basketball standpoint, but from an emotional standpoint, you start worrying about getting complacent,” Stefko said of the teams' familiarity. “I was very concerned about that coming in. I guess 16-0 answered that.”

It was the 14th time Bishop Canevin and Seton-La Salle played over the past four seasons, with the Rebels winning 12 against their Section 4-AA rival.

Pitt recruits Yacine Diop and Cassidy Walsh scored 16 and 12 points, respectively, to guide the Rebels to their fourth straight appearance in the PIAA semifinals, where they will meet Burrell on Tuesday, time and site to be determined.

Seton-La Salle defeated Burrell, 55-34, in the WPIAL title game.

“The balance has been the hallmark of this team all season, and that is just how these kids play,” Stefko said. “That's to their credit. That is kids making good decisions.”

Bishop Canevin's Gina Vallecorsa led all scorers with 24 points, including 19 in the second half. Sarah Green added 10.

“We're really focused,” Newman said. “We're going to lose two really talented seniors after this season so we are going to go in and play our best for them.”

Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at nsmith@tribweb.com or via Twitter @NSmith_Trib.

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