Seton-La Salle girls win, reach PIAA title game
For the fourth time this season, the Bishop Canevin and Seton-La Salle girls basketball teams brought their holy war to the court.
But the script didn’t change as the Rebels (23-7) walked away with the win.
The WPIAL Class AA champion defeated its Section 3-AA rival 61-47 in the PIAA semifinals to reach the state title game for the second straight season.
“They are special, and they’re winners,” Seton-La Salle coach Spencer Stefko said. “There’s a reason this is the winningest group in Seton history. They simply know how to win. I’m not pulling teeth with this team. I am letting the positive energy from the seniors multiply with the kids.”
The Rebels advance to the PIAA championship game to face Neumann-Goretti at noon Friday at Giant Center in Hershey. It will be a rematch of last season’s final that saw the Rebels win 58-50.
The Rebels started hot, making 4 of 7 shots from beyond the arc to build their lead to 19-12 at the end of one quarter. The lead grew to as high as 13 in the second quarter.
Bishop Canevin made a comeback to start the second half as it went on a 12-3 run sparked by 3-pointers from Erin Joyce and Gina Vallecorsa. But after calling a timeout, Seton-La Salle went on a run of its own to end the third quarter ahead 48-35. Nicolete Newman scored nine points to put it out of reach.
“(Walsh) said there was a ton of time left and let’s keep going,” Stefko said. “This group of seniors coach the team in a lot of cases. That wasn’t a magic timeout. It was just good leaders being good leaders and good followers being good followers.”
Bishop Canevin coach Tim Joyce said after his team cut the Rebels lead to two, he felt his players were fouled repeatedly but did not receive a call.
“We had three times we went to the basket and a referee swallowed their whistle,” Joyce said. “Everyone will say it’s sour grapes. But when you are in a game like this playing against a great team and you spend that energy and you’re there, you can’t have that. That just killed us.”
The Rebels were led by Newman with 21 points and Walsh with 18. The seniors will be competing for their third PIAA title.
“They were huge and they were doing it against special coverage,” Stefko said. “(Newman) did a really nice job of letting the game come to her and not forcing. They asserted themselves at the right times and they got other people involved at the right times. It is fun when they do that.”
For the Crusaders, making the Class AA final four will provide experience for a young roster moving forward. Bishop Canevin (19-11) graduates only one senior and will return its starting five next season.
“I told them I never had a team come in day in, day out and work as hard as this one has,” Joyce said. “I have had young teams before but this one works so hard.
“We have a lot of things to get better at, but they play hard. That is the No. 1 thing.”