Burrell's Myers' string of double-doubles thwarted in loss
It was no secret that Burrell sophomore Natalie Myers had been playing some of the best basketball in the western end of the state during the postseason.
Myers had compiled double figures in scoring and rebounding in six of the past seven games.
Seton-La Salle first-year coach Spencer Stefko knew that his team would have to put the clamps on Myers if the Rebels were going to get their ticket punched for the state finals in Hershey.
Stefko assigned Oak Hill (Va.) Academy transfer Yacine Diop to guard Myers, and the Senegal native responded to the challenge by holding Myers to seven points — all in the second half.
In fact, Diop's performance left her coach speechless.
“I can't talk about it, because I don't have the words,” Stefko said. “She was that good, and Myers is a helluva player. We knew how dangerous she was, and that one of the differences of the game.”
Diop is headed for Pitt, where she'll be coached by Seton-La Salle alum Suzie McConnell-Serio.
“Yacine's got boundless energy, and she's smart, and she brought that all to the table today,” Stefko said.
“I like to play defense,” Diop said. “I knew she was a good player and I said. ‘she ain't going to score on me.' That was my goal for the night.”
Although Burrell lost, the Bucs played better Tuesday night than they did against the Rebels at Palumbo Center on Feb. 28.
The turnovers were still a problem for Burrell.
On Tuesday, however, Burrell was able to get into its offensive sets, as opposed to the WPIAL finals in which the Bucs had trouble getting the ball into the forecourt.
The only exceptions in the first half occurred when Seton-La Salle got a 10-second call on Sydney Bordonaro bringing the ball upcourt, and when Myers was trapped near the scorer's table.
“We were more typical of what we could do tonight, and we actually got into some of the things we wanted to run,” Burrell coach Meghan Ziemianski said. “Especially when they were doubling the ball, we were popping a few layups through it.”
The Rebels got their share of points off turnovers, including Diop collecting 12 of her game-high 20 points in the first half.
“They say good defense creates offense, and I see how that's good,” Diop said. “They say offenses score points and defense wins championships, so that's pretty good.”
Diop also realized Burrell would play better this time around.
“My goal is, no matter how good the team is, I want to play my game no matter what,” the 5-foot-10 senior said.
“I just want to know, one time, what it would feel like to be that fast,” Ziemianski said with a laugh in reference to Diop.
George Guido is a freelance writer.