High-scoring Thomas Jefferson girls race past Oakland Catholic

Monday, January 8, 2018 | 10:21 PM

In a matchup between the highest-scoring team in WPIAL Class 5A and the classification's stingiest defense, it was the offensive firepower of No. 1 Thomas Jefferson that prevailed.

Thomas Jefferson utilized sharp passing and efficient shooting to topple No. 2 Oakland Catholic, 58-45, in a Section 2 girls basketball game Monday night in Pleasant Hills.

The Jaguars (10-1, 3-0) scored in double figures in each quarter and closed the contest with an authoritative 18-5 fourth-quarter run to seal the win.

Thomas Jefferson's 58 points marks a new season high scored against the stalwart Eagles (6-3, 2-1) defense, which had not allowed more then 44 points in its previous eight games.

“We play an up-tempo offense, and it's hard to slow this team down,” Thomas Jefferson coach George Vlassich said. “The big thing about playing against Oakland Catholic is that we knew we could go uptempo on them, but we had to be disciplined because they're so tall and have great length.

“We had to make sure we were laying bodies on their girls under the hoop out there. The kids realized that at halftime, and it helped us buckle down.”

Marina Petruzzi and Jenna Clark shined for the Jaguars, with Petruzzi collecting 16 points and five rebounds and Clark scoring 16 points and handing out five assists. Both players hit a pair of 3-pointers.

“We knew that these two kids were going to be the head of the snake, there's no question about it. We preached to them that they have to coexist and work together,” Vlassich said.

“Jenna is like lightning in a bottle and Marina is like a bull in a china shop. When she goes to the paint, you'd almost have to knock her out to stop her. They are coexisting so well, and that's why, to this point, we've been so successful.”

Oakland Catholic did plenty to earn its keep on the boards, with Cierra Christain and Sierra DeAngelo each pulling down eight rebounds. The Eagles also received 10-point performances by both Jayde Boyd and Alexis Sestric. In addition, junior Anna Sproule chipped in nine points off the bench.

According to Oakland Catholic coach Shannon Kearney, however, momentum played a key role, and the energy of the game kept swinging in the other direction.

“I think them hitting big 3-pointers in the fourth quarter really was the turnaround,” Kearney said. “I think they're a great 3-point shooting team, I think they're very efficient and I think that we need to be able to play better defense against them.”

Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.

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