Dunn leads Woodland Hills rally past Thomas Jefferson in Class 5A quarters

Monday, March 8, 2021 | 10:16 PM

When Woodland Hills needed a second-half spark, it turned to point guard Jazmine Dunn. Now, Thomas Jefferson is done.

Dunn ignited a big second half Monday as the Wolverines rallied to defeat the Jaguars, 58-54, to advance to the WPIAL Class 5A semifinals.

Woodland Hills coach Von Pitts said he had a talk with Dunn at halftime that sparked the junior.

“When (TJ guard) Graci Fariman was getting downhill, I turned to (Dunn), ‘Are you that type of point guard or not? Can you match her intensity on both ends of the floor?’ We started out with (Jasmyn) Fisher watching her (Fairman), but I said, ‘We’re going to make a switch. Dunn you have Gracie now.’ ”

Dunn was aggressive in the third quarter, scoring six of her 10 points in helping to erase a five-point halftime deficit for the Wolverines. Dunn also limited Fairman to nine second-half points, 17 total.

Woodland Hills also received a jolt on both ends of the floor by the play of 6-foot freshman Hope Hawkins off the bench. A wrestler, she brings a lot of power on the blocks for the Wolverines, Pitts said.

“Her strength is phenomenal. She does some things that you can’t teach. Once she learns how to play the post and how to face up, she’s going to be dangerous.”

Moments after missing a late free throw, Hawkins rebounded a missed Dunn shot and her putback gave Woodland Hills a 46-44 lead with 7 seconds remaining.

Thomas Jefferson missed three free throws late in the game. For Woodland Hills, senior Peyston Pinkney connected on two free throws with 1 second left to seal the win.

“We’re resilient,” Pitts said. “Over the weekend, we shot over 400 foul shots. We were missing some girls, so we couldn’t do some things we wanted to do. We shot free throws.”

That extra work paid off as the Wolverines were 12 of 17 from the free-throw line while the Jaguars struggled, connecting on only 4 of 14 shots from the line.

Thomas Jefferson did have success from behind the arc, hitting on eight 3-pointers, but only one of them came in the second half when TJ was limited to 16 points.

“I told the kids, we’ve been fighting through adversity all year long. What’s going to be different tonight?” Pitts said. “We knew TJ was going to be extremely tough here at their house. Lisa (Fairman) has a heck of a team. They fight tooth and nail. My hat goes off to them.”

Thomas Jefferson ends their season at 12-10 and comes up short of the semifinals for the first time in three years.

Woodland Hills improves to 13-6 and advances to the Class 5A semifinals for a second straight year. Last year, the Wolverines lost to Trinity, 50-33, in the semifinals. Now, they meet the top-seed Hillers again.

“Kathy (McConnell-Miller) does a phenomenal job with her kids,” Pitts said. “She has that collegiate-style offense. She does some different things on defense. However, our size will give us a chance.”

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