DeAngelo, Clark lift Thomas Jefferson girls into PIAA Class 5A semifinals

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Saturday, March 16, 2019 | 3:23 PM


ALTOONA — It wasn’t the prospect of an all-WPIAL state Class 5A girls basketball semifinal that had Thomas Jefferson’s Jenna Clark and Alyssa DeAngelo laughing and jumping around in the back hallway of the Altoona Area High School Field House on Saturday afternoon.

They were just happy to be here. No further incentive needed.

“We just stuck with it. We’re having a lot of fun,” said Clark, the Jaguars’ Yale-bound guard.

DeAngelo and Clark combined for 27 points, and TJ turned up the defense a notch in the second half to finally put away District 3 champion Palmyra, 48-39, in the PIAA quarterfinals.

Improving to 22-7, the Jaguars secured a berth opposite Chartiers Valley, a 46-43 winner over Oakland Catholic, on Tuesday with the winner bound for Hershey.

It was far from easy. Thomas Jefferson only led by four late in the second quarter and had a 10-point edge whittled down to six with 3 minutes left. However, the Jaguars made it so tough for Palmyra to score — allowing just nine points apiece in each of the final three quarters — it was enough.

“I think our pressure on defense kind of rattled them. It forced some turnovers,” TJ coach Lisa Fairman said. “I said coming in if we can play strong defensively and we can own the boards, that’s the game.”

Thomas Jefferson did both, forcing 21 turnovers and outrebounding Palmyra, 28-22. That allowed the Jaguars to get 42 shots from the field and to control the tempo.

Palmyra (18-11) mounted several runs after falling behind 15-10 in the first quarter, but the Cougars never were quite able to make up all the ground after TJ went on a 8-0 run spanning the end of the second quarter into the beginning of the third for a 28-21 lead.

The Jaguars increased the margin to 10 when Clark, who scored 13, tracked down an errant Palmyra inbound pass and took it in from halfcourt for a layup with 6:38 left in the contest.

“They’re good,” Palmyra coach Mary Manlove. “We did our very best to keep it close, and we had our chances, but shots didn’t fall for us. We didn’t play as meticulously as we needed.”

DeAngelo had the hot hand with 13 points in the first half, when the Jaguars built a lead of as many as eight. However, Palmyra erased the margin with a 9-0 run in the second quarter before DeAngelo’s step-back jumper from the elbow staked TJ to a three-point advantage at halftime.

“I definitely felt I had to step up offensively with (Dalaney Ranallo) away at a soccer tournament,” said DeAngelo, who finished with 14. “It means everything to me (to get this far).”

Amelia Baldo’s 12 points paced Palmyra.

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