Plum downs Gateway on OT 3-pointer
The Plum varsity girls basketball team celebrated senior day Saturday against Gateway, as Yasimin Kelly and Angelena Borriello were honored for their service and dedication to the program the past several seasons.
Shortly before the ceremony began, a dramatic back-and-forth Section 2-AAAA battle between the Mustangs and first-place Gateway concluded in overtime, and a junior stepped up with one of the biggest shots of the season.
Gateway led 37-36 in the closing seconds of overtime, but Plum had the ball. The Mustangs moved the ball around and got it to Jordan Seneca, and the junior guard let an open 3-pointer sail towards the basket.
The ball found nothing but net with five seconds on the clock.
Gateway tried to get off one more shot attempt, but it was unsuccessful. Plum immediately celebrated a big 39-37 victory.
“It felt good as soon as I shot it,” said Seneca, who had one point in the game up to that moment.
“My shot wasn’t good the whole game, but I kept shooting the ball, and I knew one would go in.”
Plum improved to 8-2 in section with the win, and it controlled its own destiny for a section championship heading into its final two games.
The Mustangs were scheduled to play at Fox Chapel on Tuesday, and the game was to be played past the deadline for this week’s edition.
The Foxes, who lost to Gateway on Friday, entered the game 9-2 in section, and it was their final section contest.
Plum will take on Franklin Regional on Friday in the section finale for both teams. The game is at Franklin Regional, and it will tip at 6 p.m.
A Mustangs girls basketball team never has won a section championship.
Saturday’s game, a rematch of a 56-49 Gateway victory on Dec. 21, was pretty physical throughout.
“Last time we played them, we were more physical in the second half and almost came back (from a big halftime deficit),” Pietropola said.
“We knew this time we had to play physical from the beginning. That’s what we did, and it worked.”
Pietropola scored a team-best 16 points, and she was the only player in double figures.
Sophomore Courtney Zezza added five points and 10 rebounds.
In addition to Seneca’s game-winning 3-pointer, Borriello also drained a three in overtime, and she finished with nine points.
Plum trailed Gateway 18-16 at halftime and was down 23-18 early in the third quarter, but the Mustangs went on a 10-0 run over an eight-minute span between the third and fourth quarters and held a 28-23 advantage.
But the Gators fought back to take a 32-30 lead with less than a minute left.
Plum had the ball for one last shot to tie the game.
Pietropola took a shot, and Gateway’s Morgan Hainsey got the rebound. The Gators then turned the ball over, and Pietropola was fouled by Jada Epps.
Pietropola went to the line and sank both foul shots to tie the game.
Gateway tried to win it in the closing seconds, but Katey Wilson’s 3-pointer with three ticks on the clock caromed off the rim and out of play.
“If I had a dollar for every lead change today, I’d be a rich man,” Plum head coach Bernie Pucka said.
“The way both teams played, no one should’ve ended up losing that game. It was physical, and we were fortunate to get the win.”
Plum forced the game into overtime despite missing eight free throws in regulation and turning the ball over 12 times in the second half. The Mustangs missed three free throws in overtime.
“Normally, I wouldn’t favor my odds if those things happen, especially against a team like Gateway,” Pucka said. “We learned a lesson from the first time we played them. You can’t go down 19 and expect to come back and win. We brought the physical play, and we played an emotional game.”
Plum won its second section game in as many nights. It beat Penn Hills, 44-37, on Friday, and Saturday’s game with Gateway was rescheduled from Jan. 25 because of bad weather.
“We were glad to get that Penn Hills game out of the way,” Pucka said. “If you sleep on Penn Hills, they will get you.”
Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at email@example.com.
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review sports reporter. You can contact Michael at 412-856-7400 x8632, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .