Burrell senior Manga eager for rematch vs. Seton-La Salle
Jaila Manga went for a rebound and fell to the court, her lower back and elbow meeting the hard floor with a thud.
A few possessions later, she dove to the floor on the other end for a loose ball, her arm scraping the playing surface with a sound that matched squeaking sneakers.
It was clear Friday during Burrell's 62-48 win over General McLane in the PIAA Class AA quarterfinals that the Burrell senior didn't want her season to end.
Manga already made that obvious when she took an elbow to the top of her head and spent about 85 percent of the WPIAL championship game in the Mercy Hospital emergency room. The bloody injury occurred just three minutes into the loss to Seton-La Salle, and Manga needed three staples to mend the gash just above her hairline.
Duquesne police rushed her to the hospital.
She returned for the final seconds to rousing applause, the ordeal a “what just happened?” blur.
Now staple-free and eager to know what it's like to play against Seton-La Salle, the no-nonsense Manga will get a second chance, along with her team, when the teams meet again in the PIAA semifinals at 6 p.m. Tuesday at North Allegheny.
The winner goes to Hershey for Friday's state championship.
“We're all so excited to be here because this is what we have been working for all season,” Manga said. “We started talking about playing them again right after the WPIAL final.”
A 5-foor-7 guard and fourth-year starter, Manga has done what coach Meghan Ziemianski calls “the little things.” A glue player who not only provides senior leadership, but also contributes a defensive presence, Manga was missed by her teammates in the 55-34 setback against Seton-La Salle (25-4), the only loss on Burrell's front-weighted record (28-1).
“Jaila gets to play against them this time,” Ziemianski said. “She doesn't remember much from that first game, but she knows we needed her. We're glad to have her back.”
Manga has not made a field goal in the state playoffs. She did not start and played sparingly in the first round against Clarion-Limestone, but she was a defensive standout in the next two wins against Bellwood-Antis and General McLane.
And her role to keep the ball moving crisply on offense didn't go unnoticed as she helped set up shots during Burrell's 14-for-16 shooting start in the quarterfinal win over General McLane.
“Trust me, I know her,” senior guard Kelsey Oddis said. “She can't wait to play (against Seton-La Salle). She'll be ready for this one.”
Manga doesn't have much first-hand experience with Seton-La Salle, but she values another chance to find out. As do her teammates, all still new to this level of postseason basketball.
“I don't think it's really hit them yet what they've done,” Ziemianski said.
Burrell knows that with or without Manga — or top reserve Erika Finn, a junior guard who won't play because of a sprained ankle — it has to play mistake free and hit open shots.
“Seton-La Salle's an amazing team. We have to come out and play our best game against them,” said junior point guard Sydney Bordonaro, who scored 26 points in Friday's win, 14 in the tone-setting first quarter. “The only way we have a chance to win is if we come out fast and play Burrell basketball.
“We have to hang around till the fourth quarter then take the win.”