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Trib Cup: Serra Catholic girls beneft from balanced lineup

- Ronald Vezzani Jr.| Daily News Serra Catholics Katie Sieg drives towards the hoop during game action against Allderdice during the Serra Christmas Holiday Tournament on Friday, December 28, 2012.
Ronald Vezzani Jr.| Daily News Serra Catholics Katie Sieg drives towards the hoop during game action against Allderdice during the Serra Christmas Holiday Tournament on Friday, December 28, 2012.
- Serra Catholics Lauren Czerwien steals the ball from Allderdice's Sydnee Abernathy during game action at the Serra Christmas Holiday Tournament on Friday, December 28, 2012. Ronald Vezzani Jr.| For the Tribune-Review
Serra Catholics Lauren Czerwien steals the ball from Allderdice's Sydnee Abernathy during game action at the Serra Christmas Holiday Tournament on Friday, December 28, 2012. Ronald Vezzani Jr.| For the Tribune-Review
- Serra Catholic's Katie Sieg drives toward the hoop during game action against Allderdice during the Serra Christmas Holiday Tournament on Friday, December 28, 2012. Ronald Vezzani Jr.| For the Tribune-Review
Serra Catholic's Katie Sieg drives toward the hoop during game action against Allderdice during the Serra Christmas Holiday Tournament on Friday, December 28, 2012. Ronald Vezzani Jr.| For the Tribune-Review
- Serra Catholics Kayla Webster drives toward the hoop during game action against Allderdice during the Serra Christmas Holiday Tournament on Friday, December 28, 2012. Ronald Vezzani Jr.| For the Tribune-Review
Serra Catholics Kayla Webster drives toward the hoop during game action against Allderdice during the Serra Christmas Holiday Tournament on Friday, December 28, 2012. Ronald Vezzani Jr.| For the Tribune-Review
- Serra Catholic's Nicole Pero attempts a layup against Allderdice during the Serra Christmas Holiday Tournament on Friday, December 28, 2012. Ronald Vezzani Jr.| For the Tribune-Review
Serra Catholic's Nicole Pero attempts a layup against Allderdice during the Serra Christmas Holiday Tournament on Friday, December 28, 2012. Ronald Vezzani Jr.| For the Tribune-Review

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schoolstandings

Class AAAA

1. Peters Township 144

2. North Allegheny 129

3. Upper St. Clair 95

4. Mt. Lebanon 85

5. Penn-Trafford 81

6. Fox Chapel 75

7. Moon 67

8t. Bethel Park 63

8t. Seneca Valley 63

10. Canon-McMillan 53

11. Gateway 50

12. Pine-Richland 44

Class AAA

1. Mars 110

2. Quaker Valley 101

3. Central Valley 83

4. Hopewell 66

5. South Fayette 57

6. South Park 56

7. West Allegheny 55

8. Belle Vernon 48

9. Beaver 46

10t. Indiana 45

10t. Thomas Jeff. 45

10t. West Mifflin 45

Class AA

1. Greensburg C.C. 129

2. Shady Side Acad. 74

3. Bishop Canevin 61

4. Seton-La Salle 53

5. Neshannock 44

6. Bentworth 42

7t. Avonworth 39

7t. Riverside 39

9t. Burrell 37

9t. Washington 37

11t. Char.-Houston 33

11t. South Allegheny 33

Class A

1. Sewickley Acad. 106

2. Clairton 54

3. OLSH 49

4. Aliquippa 48

5. Serra Catholic 39

6t. Riverview 34

6t. Springdale 34

6t. Vincentian 34

9. California 26

10. Rochester 23

11. North Catholic 22

12. Frazier 21

SCORING SYSTEM

Section victories: 1 point

Playoff berth: 1

Playoff victory: 2

WPIAL/PIAA runner-up: 5/15

WPIAL/PIAA title: 10/20

Results for fall sports, basketball and wrestling.

+ Classification based on PIAA enrollment figures

Not including Thursday's games.

Top high school sports

'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.

By Brian Graham
Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013, 10:22 p.m.
 

The only blemish on the Serra Catholic girls basketball team's record is a loss in its tip-off tournament against Vincentian, the top-ranked team in Class A.

Since that 67-59 loss Dec. 8, it's been smooth sailing for head coach Bill Cleary and his Eagles.

This week, the Eagles are highlighted as the Trib Total Media/WPXI High School Sports Award feature for posting an 8-1 record and an unbeaten 2-0 mark in Section 4-A, which has helped Serra Catholic High School move into fifth-place in the Class A standings.

“At this point in the season, we are doing very well,” Cleary said. “In fact, we look like the veteran team that we are. A lot of these players are letter winners, and they play well and mesh as a unit.”

The Eagles are loaded from top to bottom, starting with senior Jesse Manfredi; juniors Megan Sieg, Leslie Hoye and Nicole Pero; and sophomore Katie Sieg.

Cleary's bench players also have played significant minutes mainly because he said there is no dropoff in production. Seniors Lindsay Muschar, Lauren Czerwien, Kayla Webster and Brooke McCallister and junior Danielle Dindak have allowed Cleary to keep his starters fresh and rested.

“Our entire team — from the starting five to the bench — has been the nucleus of what we've been able to accomplish at the varsity level,” Cleary said. “What makes us so effective is that when I go to the bench, we have no dropoff. It really does stay at the same level.”

Cleary realized the talent he had in a 58-53 win over Greensburg Central Catholic on Dec. 17. The Eagles handled the ball for the final minute and a half to seal an impressive nonsection win.

“I tell you what, we looked so poised as we were winding down the clock and taking what the defense gave us,” Cleary said. “I said ‘there it is,' we handled this thing. We handled the pressure and that situation very well.”

With the team's offensive skill and ability to control the ball, Cleary mostly has emphasized the importance of tough, stingy defense to his players. The Eagles are allowing less than 41 points per game, something Cleary hopes will continue throughout the remainder of the season.

“Everything starts with how well you defend and rebound,” he said. “I want to say that they are all good offensive players, but the thing we concentrate on is defense.

“They play some tough smothering defense, and with the talent these girls have, it makes for an interesting, intense practice that's for sure.”

With section games against Monessen, Clairton, Frazier and Winchester Thurston coming up, Cleary said he realizes there still is a lot of basketball left to play. He's going to rely on the veteran leadership to push the group toward another spot in the WPIAL playoffs.

“Everybody has goals to make the playoffs, win the sections. ... That's our goals right now, but we'll continue to work and get better, and hopefully we can go pretty far,” Cleary said. “Everybody likes to play for championships, so yeah I'd like to play for a championship.”

Brian Graham is a freelance writer.

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