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St. Joseph girls race past Geibel in WPIAL Class A playoffs | TribLIVE.com
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St. Joseph girls race past Geibel in WPIAL Class A playoffs

Tribune-Review
| Saturday, February 17, 2018 3:57 p.m
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Jack Fordyce | Tribune-Review
St. Joseph's Alex Jones (1) moves the ball up the court during their WPIAL playoff game against Geibel Catholic on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018 at Fox Chapel Area High School.
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Jack Fordyce | Tribune-Review
St. Joseph's Chloe Kurpakus (12) goes up for a shot during their WPIAL playoff game against Geibel Catholic on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018 at Fox Chapel Area High School.
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Jack Fordyce | Tribune-Review
St. Joseph's Alex Jones (1) gets a rebound during their WPIAL playoff game against Geibel Catholic on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018 at Fox Chapel Area High School.
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Jack Fordyce | Tribune-Review
St. Joseph's Alex Jones (1) goes up for a shot during their WPIAL playoff game against Geibel Catholic on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018 at Fox Chapel Area High School.
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Jack Fordyce | Tribune-Review
St. Joseph's Chloe Kurpakus (12) goes up for a shot during their WPIAL playoff game against Geibel Catholic on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018 at Fox Chapel Area High School.
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Jack Fordyce | Tribune-Review
St. Joseph's Chloe Kurpakus (12) looks for a lane during their WPIAL playoff game against Geibel Catholic on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018 at Fox Chapel Area High School.
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Jack Fordyce | Tribune-Review
St. Joseph's Chloe Kurpakus (12) goes to the net during their WPIAL playoff game against Geibel Catholic on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018 at Fox Chapel Area High School.
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Jack Fordyce | Tribune-Review
St. Joseph's Alex Jones (1) goes up for a shot during their WPIAL playoff game against Geibel Catholic on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018 at Fox Chapel Area High School.
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Jack Fordyce | Tribune-Review
St. Joseph's Alex Jones (1) goes up for a shot during their WPIAL playoff game against Geibel Catholic on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018 at Fox Chapel Area High School.

It felt something like two weeks since St. Joseph could play the type of basketball game it wanted.

Suffice to say the Spartans didn’t want to waste any more time.

Playing its preferred get-out-and-go style of basketball, St. Joseph overwhelmed Geibel Catholic early and rolled to a 76-35 victory in a Class A first-round game Saturday afternoon at Fox Chapel.

“That’s playing our speed of game,” St. Joseph coach Sally Ackerman said. “We played our tempo, the way we want to play. When we can get into that rhythm, our girls, they thrive.”

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It was a different story for St. Joseph in its final playoff tune-up against Butler, a 41-24 loss that saw the Golden Tornado effectively slow the pace and hold the Spartans to a season-low in points.

The style of Saturday’s game felt much more to St. Joseph’s liking: The No. 6 Spartans (14-9) forced 28 turnovers — 20 in the first half — allowing for frequent fast-break opportunities, and they used their size advantage inside for second-chance baskets.

Chloe Kurpakus scored a game-high 27 points. Alex Jones added 22, and Nevaeh Ewing chipped in 10 as St. Joseph reached a season high in points. The Spartans led by as many as 43 points in the second half, putting the mercy rule into effect.

“We definitely like the fast-paced games, when we’re not setting up (their) defense and to keep it going,” Kurpakus said. “It was nice to come right off the bat and start off strong.”

The Spartans advanced to the Class A quarterfinals, where they will play No. 3 Quigley Catholic on Friday at a site and time to be determined.

With three “official” starters and an unofficial one returning from last season’s WPIAL semifinal team, St. Joseph put the game away early.

Showing little patience for the proceedings, the Spartans raced to a 15-point lead by the end of the first quarter as Jones hit a trio of 3-pointers. The advantage ballooned to 25 points by halftime and kept growing.

“We’ve been here before,” Jones said. “As long as we want it and go out and play hard, I think we’ll be OK.”

No. 11 Geibel (9-12), which made the WPIAL quarterfinals last season, got 15 points from Gabby Yourish but couldn’t overcome St. Joseph’s size and speed.

“Their size is a big advantage,” Geibel coach Patrick Blackstone said. “They run the court extremely well. They move the ball extremely well, so kudos to them and good luck to them in the rest of the playoffs.”

Saturday’s victory set up yet another postseason matchup between St. Joseph and Quigley Catholic — the fifth in the past six years, in fact. Quigley won the first three playoff matchups, from 2013-15, but St. Joseph beat Quigley in last season’s quarterfinals and then again earlier this season.

“We love playing in that game,” Kurpakus said. “It’s a tough game, but hopefully we’ll come out strong and play a team game.”

Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at dgulasy@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

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