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5 players to watch in the opening round of the WPIAL girls basketball playoffs

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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Greensburg Salem’s Megan Kallock scores over Indiana’s Laken Dills during their game Monday, Feb. 4, 2019, at Greensburg Salem High School.

The postseason is a time for stars to shine bright. Legends are made at this time of year as the games are more meaningful, and the performances have to be better to win and advance.

Here are five players to watch during the opening round of the 2019 WPIAL girls basketball playoffs, which get underway Friday night on the Path to the Pete.

Megan Kallock, Greensburg Salem, Sr.

The leading scorer in WPIAL girls basketball averaged more than 25 points per game. Despite her on-court heroics, the Golden Lions needed a win over Apollo-Ridge in their final section game to secure a three-way tie for third place in Section 1-4A and clinch a playoff spot.

Kallock will being going up against the fifth-best defensive team in all of Class 4A when Greensburg Salem faces McKeesport on Monday at Fox Chapel.

The 5-foot-7 guard will play at Saint Vincent.

Brooke Poling, Frazier, Sr.

Frazier enjoyed a good regular season with a 14-7 overall record and a second-place finish in Section 3-2A. The only thing that kept the Commodores from enjoying a great regular season was section champ and Class 2A top-seeded Bishop Canevin.

Senior Brooke Poling was great though as she averaged more than 20 points per game. The all-time leading scorer in Frazier girls basketball history looks to lead the Commodores to their first playoff win since 2015.

It won’t be easy as Poling and the Commodores face two-time WPIAL champion Winchester Thurston in a first-round game Friday at Charleroi.

Taylor Kirschner, Quigley Catholic, Sr.

Quigley Catholic started the season slow, losing five of seven. Then, the Spartans got hot with nine wins in 10 games. However, the struggles returned, as the team lost four of its last five games.

But while the season has been inconsistent for the 12-10 Spartans, senior Taylor Kirschner has been the model of consistency as she has averaged more than 21 points a game.

Quigley Catholic reached the Class A semifinals last year before falling to West Greene. The Spartans need their winning ways to return quick, starting Tuesday against Mapletown at West Allegheny if they hope to make noise again in this year’s postseason.

Jenna Clark, Thomas Jefferson, Sr.

Jenna Clark runs the show for the Thomas Jefferson offense, and it has become a production worth seeing. The Jaguars averaged nearly 61 points, second only to the team that finished ahead of them in Section 1-5A, top seed and undefeated Chartiers Valley.

Clark has done her share of the scoring, pumping in an average of more than 20 points per game as the Jaguars finished 16-6 overall and have won five straight.

Thomas Jefferson will face Plum in a Class 5A first-round game Tuesday at North Allegheny. After she graduates this spring, Clark plans to take her basketball skills to the Ivy League where she will play at Yale.

Jade Lee, Carlynton, Jr.

If you are looking for a dark horse in Class 3A, keep your eye on Carlynton. OK, so the Cougars wouldn’t be much of a dark horse as a No. 4 seed.

But even though they finished second to Shady Side Academy in Section 3-3A, Carlynton could make a run thanks to the play of guard Jada Lee. The junior has averaged more than 18 points a game this season in helping the Cougars finish 18-4.

Carlynton hits the court Wednesday at North Hills for first-round action against Ellwood City. A Cougars victory could set up a quarterfinal dandy against Avonworth (15-6) if the Antelopes get past Beth-Center.

Don Rebel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Don at [email protected] or via Twitter @TheDonRebel.