Rochester girls advance to 1st WPIAL title game after defeating Quigley Catholic

Tuesday, February 26, 2019 | 9:15 PM

After battling neck-and-neck through the first three quarters of their WPIAL semifinal matchup, the Rochester girls basketball team exploded for 26 points in the fourth quarter to topple rival Quigley Catholic, 66-55, on Tuesday night at North Hills.

The victory for the Rams (18-6) could very well be the biggest in their program’s history, as the No. 2-seed is headed to the WPIAL Class A title game for the first time.

“It’s breathtaking, to be honest with you,” Rochester coach C.J. Iannini said.

“We’re so excited right now to be in this position. We’re grateful. We’re humbled. The first time in school history we’ll be doing this; it’s a new place for us. We want this to be a tradition we continue moving forward, but for now we’re just excited to be moving on.”

The fourth quarter run, which saw the Rams outscore the Spartans, 26-14, was keyed by clutch performances from Jasmine Mack, Alexis Robison and Corynne Hauser.

Mack scored eight of her 16 points in the fourth quarter, while Hauser tallied nine of her 15 points in the final frame, hitting seven free throws in the waning minutes to help keep her team ahead.

Robison, meanwhile, drilled two 3-pointers at pivotal moments in the final four minutes. Both of the sophomore guard’s shots pushed her team’s lead from three points to six at junctures where Quigley was attempting to turn the tide.

“Everybody calls them ‘The Big Three.’ They’re all underclassmen, but when push comes to shove, those three are the ones we rely on. The cream rises to the top when necessary,” Iannini said.

“We want to go to Jasmine Mack down the stretch. She’s the most tenured player on the team, even though she’s just a junior; her presence and basketball IQ helps calm us down. Alexis hitting those 3s were huge. After that, we got our fast-break layups; that’s our style, that’s what we want to do. Quigley did a good job of containing it in the first half, but we finally got it when we needed it most.”

The semifinal win was Rochester’s third win of the season against the Section 1-A foe. The Rams defeated Quigley Catholic, 66-51 and 63-44.

The Spartans received a stellar performance from Taylor Kirschner, who hit six 3-pointers and had a game-high 32 points. The senior had 13 points in the fourth quarter.

“I think it was just a game of runs. We made a couple of runs, they made a couple of runs. Unfortunately for us, their last run, they made it at the end,” Quigley Catholic coach Bill Del Tondo said.

“We told the girls, they played their hearts out. We can’t ask for anymore than what they gave us today. Taylor has been a leader for us, and hopefully she’s showed the rest of the girls the way, so that they can take that and move forward in the future.”

Rochester will play No. 1 West Greene (22-2) in the WPIAL Class A championship at 3 p.m. Friday at Peterson Events Center.

Quigley Catholic advances to the PIAA tournament, which begins next week.

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