Rochester girls edge West Greene, capture 1st WPIAL Class A basketball title

Friday, March 1, 2019 | 4:42 PM

After falling behind by 12 points early, Rochester coach C.J. Ianinni told his team to try to make it a one-possession game by halftime.

The Rams did that and took over during the second half to win the school’s first WPIAL girls basketball championship over West Greene, 62-56, in the Class A final Friday at Pitt’s Petersen Events Center.

Rochester (19-6) was led by Alexis Robison’s 21 points and six steals. Jasmine Mack had a solid second half, finishing with 19 points overall and 14 rebounds.

Down 23-11 after West Greene staged a 15-0 run in the first quarter, Robison caught fire in the second with 14 points to bring Rochester to within 36-33 at the intermission.

“It was a game of emotions,” Ianinni said. “We get down by 12 and the girls are affected by the bright lights of the city. I told them to forget the start, and we settled down in the second quarter. Then, it was a matter of chipping away at their lead.”

“We started really well,” West Greene coach Jordan Watson said. “Second quarter, they flipped that on us. It was basically anybody’s game at halftime, and they came out on top in the second half.”

Both Rochester and West Greene (22-3) will enter PIAA tournament play March 9 against opponents yet to be determined. The Pioneers were also seeking the first girls basketball crown.

It was the first time a public school won a Class A girls title since Monessen in 2006 and the first time two public schools squared off for Class A honors since Clairton beat Monessen in 2001.

The Rams held the Pioneers to just four points in the third quarter — a 3-pointer by McKenna Lampe and a foul shot by Jersey Wise.

“I told the girls we have 16 minutes left and to dig deep down and not leave a thing out there,” Ianinni said. “We tried to disguise our defense to look like a man-zone.”

A steal by Robison and a drive to the hoop finally put the Rams on top 37-36. Freshman Corynne Hauser had two key baskets in the quarter.

A turnaround jumper by Mack in the middle of the key gave Rochester a 43-40 advantage at the end of the third quarter. Victoria Schinke’s first basket of the game gave the Rams the lead for good, 47-45.

With the game still up for grabs, a power move to the hoop by Mack with 41 seconds to go put Rochester in front, 59-53. After a Pioneers miss, Mack caught Robison open near the basket to make it 59-53 with 18 seconds left to decide the issue.

“Jasmine felt more comfortable as the game went on, and she was dominating in the paint,” Ianinni said. “They tried to trap her, but she adjusted.”

“We had a great start, but we just couldn’t finish,” Watson said. “It’s really tough to stop (Mack) inside. Give Rochester credit. They came out of the hardest section.”

Hauser contributed 13 points for the Rams and had seven steals.

Jasmine Wise led the Pioneers with 15 points and Madison Lampe had 13.

Despite the mid-afternoon start, both schools experienced strong fan support.

“This means the world to us,” Ianinni said about the title. “To have the level of support from the school and the community is really something we haven’t seen for a long time, and we’re proud to be part of it.”

“It’s heartbreaking to have this outcome after the time you put in,” McKenna Lampe said. “But the support from the community really helps.”

McKenna Lampe had 10 points and 14 rebounds.

West Greene’s seniors have won 79 games as a unit and have received eight combined gold and silver medals in various sports, particularly basketball and softball.

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