Rochester repeats as WPIAL Class A girls champs

Friday, February 28, 2020 | 4:37 PM

Rochester and West Greene meet in the playoffs so often that the two seem like section rivals.

The Rams and the Pioneers met for the second straight year in the WPIAL Class A finals with Rochester repeating as champions with a 59-43 victory Friday afternoon.

The two schools also met in the 2017 and ’18 early rounds with West Greene winning both times.

The Rams (24-1) used a strong surge to start the fourth quarter Friday afternoon, outscoring West Greene, 13-4, to break open the contest at Petersen Events Center.

Sophomore Corynne Hauser led Rochester with 17 points while senior Jasmine Mack had 15 points — six early in the fourth period — and 11 rebounds.

“It’s just as sweet,” Rams coach C.J. Iannini said about a second crown in as many seasons. “It’s a great feeling. I’m so proud of what these girls have done this year. It’s been good for them, the community, the school.”

A key to the win was holding West Greene’s up-tempo offense, tops in Class A with a 63.7 points-per-game average, to just 15 points in the second half.

Said Iannini: “One thing we wanted to do, defensively, was take away their shooters in the second half and some outside shots. We made a couple of adjustments at halftime, and the girls executed perfectly.”

West Greene (24-1), losing its third consecutive title game, was led in scoring by Jersey Wise with 16 points, five steals and five assists.

The Pioneers had a trio of 3-point field goals in the first period to take an 18-15 advantage, but the success behind the arc eluded West Greene after that.

“After we made those three threes in the first quarter, we went cold, cold. Just dry,” said Pioneers coach Jordan Watson. “We got to get back on the gun and get some shots in and get some repetition in. It might be the environment here. You’re used to a hoop and a wall. Here you have a hoop and a big area.”

A Brooke Barner banker with 4 minutes, 39 seconds left in the first quarter put West Greene ahead, 8-2. The Pioneers led, 26-21, with 4:04 to go in the second period, but Rochester ended the half on 13-2 run to go in front, 34-28, at the break.

Part of the problem for West Greene was missing long jump shots and the rebounds coming out to Rochester toward the foul circle.

“The second quarter, they slowed us down a bit,” Watson said. “The third quarter was played to a standstill, but in the fourth quarter, they beat us, 17-7, and we couldn’t get a shot to fall.”

Hauser scored just four points in the second half, but the Rams were able to take advantage of seven fourth-quarter turnovers by West Greene with the sophomore directing the offense.

“You never think, growing up and watching the older teams play, that you can get back-to-back WPIAL championships,” Hauser said. “But experiencing it is pretty crazy.”

Barner led West Greene with 13 rebounds.

Rochester is now 18-18 all-time in WPIAL playoff games. The Rams will open PIAA play on March 7 against the loser of Friday’s District 9 consolation game between Elk County Catholic and Otto-Eldred.

West Greene set a school record with its 24 victories, along with a Greene County record, and is hoping for more in the PIAA playoffs. The Pioneers open with the winner of Saturday’s game between Kennedy Catholic and Farrell for the District 10 title.

West Greene was attempting to become the first girls team from Greene County to win a WPIAL title and join the 1972 Mapletown boys as the only county winner.

Watch an archived broadcast on Trib HSSN.

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