Keystone Oaks shakes off slow start, tops Brownsville in Class 3A first round

Friday, February 18, 2022 | 11:21 PM

The Keystone Oaks girls basketball program had not lost an opening playoff game, preliminary or first round, since 2006.

That is why there were some nervous moments in the first 13 minutes of the game as Brownsville led by as many as eight points.

However, host Keystone Oaks used a 10-0 run at the end of the first half to take control and deliver the KO punch to Brownsville, 71-43, in a WPIAL Class 3A first-round playoff game Friday.

Golden Eagles freshman Alayna Wagner hit a 3-pointer for an early 3-0 lead in what would be the only advantage for Keystone Oaks until late in the second quarter.

Brownsville scored eight unanswered points to take the lead. The Falcons were up 11-9 after the first quarter.

“Everything I didn’t want to happen happened early on,” Keystone Oaks coach Ron Muszynski said. “When the first half was unfolding, I was very nervous. We were getting in foul trouble. We were doing everything I told them not to do in how they could beat us — fouls and slow the game down.”

Brownsville led 22-18 with 3:09 left in the first half when the game changed on a dime.

Falcons sensational senior Emma Seto picked up her third foul and came out of the game.

Keystone Oaks then went on a 10-0 run to end the half and take a 28-22 lead into the locker room.

“I probably should have left her in there,” Brownsville coach Patty Columbia said. “I just thought we were still in control at that point.”

Not only did the Falcons’ scoring dry up with Seto on the bench, they could not handle the Golden Eagles full court pressure, and KO started to dominate the offense glass with second and third scoring opportunities with offensive rebounds.

“Wow, she’s a player,” Muszynski said. “She rebounds for them, she drives, her press break, she is really good.”

Columbia even reinserted Seto into the game with a minute left in the half, but she could not stave off the Golden Eagles momentum.

In the second half, the Keystone Oaks pressure was relentless and this time, a tiring Brownsville team could do nothing as the turnovers mounted.

Unlike in the first quarter and a half, the Golden Eagles turned those turnovers into points, running a fast break offense, leading to layups or Falcons fouls.

“We were instructing them to push the ball, push the ball because we didn’t want to get caught in that half-court game,” Muszynski said. “We really wanted to push the ball because we thought we were the quicker overall team, so that was our main focus of the game.”

The game was the end of a great high school career for Seto, who three games earlier joined her sisters Maris and Alie as 1,000-point scorers. She ended up with over 1,100 points in her career.

On Friday, she led Brownsville (8-12) with 22.

Keystone Oaks (13-9) had five players in double figures — Wagner had 18, junior Eriona Neal scored 17, sophomore Bailey Rieg tallied 14, sophomore Jayna Scott added 12 and Francesca Pacak had 10.

“That’s the thing with this team, it’s always a different girl every night, stepping up in different situations,” Muszynski said. “They share the ball really well. I feel comfortable with any one of them shooting the ball.”

The Golden Eagles have won four of their last five games and now visit third-seeded Freedom in a 3A quarterfinal set for Wednesday.

“We’re going to have a battle in our next game, no doubt about it,” Muszynski said. “They are a very good team.”

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