Senior forward’s big night boosts Baldwin past Penn-Trafford

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Wednesday, March 3, 2021 | 9:48 PM


Baldwin girls basketball coach Jamal Woodson sounded like he was at the podium at an awards show when senior forward Meghan Dryburgh’s name came up in a postgame interview.

He went all Golden Globes after he and his team celebrated with a small group of fans Wednesday night.

And the award for best performance in a WPIAL playoff game goes to …

“She was the best player in the WPIAL tonight,” Woodson said of Dryburgh, who scored 18 points and grabbed 20 rebounds to lead the ninth-seeded Highlanders to a 46-43 victory at No. 8 Penn-Trafford in a Class 6A first-round game. “No one else has done that in the playoffs thus far. When a player has the hot hand, you get her the ball.”

The Highlanders (9-7) paired Dryburgh’s play with a strong defensive effort in the fourth quarter to hold Penn-Trafford to four points and hand the Lady Warriors (10-7) their fifth first-round defeat in six years.

Baldwin hadn’t won a WPIAL playoff game since 2015, the same year that Penn-Trafford last tasted victory in the postseason.

Oddly, Baldwin won a PIAA playoff game last year after going one-and-done in the WPIAL tournament, so a big stage was not altogether daunting. Well, at least not in this round: They advance to play at No. 1 North Allegheny (19-1) at noon Saturday in the quarterfinals.

“We talked in the locker room at halftime and said, ‘This is our game,’” said Dryburgh, who has Division II offers from Mansfield and Millersville. “We had to play our game. We came out too nervous.”

In a game that saw 11 lead changes, Baldwin finally took control for good early in the fourth with an 8-0 run. Senior Kayla Radomsky scored off a rebound to give the Highlanders a 40-39 edge, and junior Morgan Altavilla connected on a 3-pointer from the wing.

A free throw by senior Sydney Carr made it 43-39 with 4:21 to go.

Senior Allie Prady, who had 16 points to lead the Warriors, hit a 3 from the top of the key to make it 44-42 with 1:07 remaining.

With momentum swinging their way again, the Warriors appeared to tie it when junior guard Maura Suman drove in for a layup and was fouled with 38 seconds left.

Controversy followed, however.

One official said good basket. Another overturned the call and whistled a charge.

Instead of a three-point play that would have given the Warriors a one-point lead, they gave the ball back.

Baldwin senior Anna Lucarelli, a West Liberty commit, then scored on a drive for a 46-42 lead and Penn-Trafford never recovered.

“Baldwin is a good team. They are well coached and have leadership,” Penn-Trafford coach John Giannikas said. “We knew it could be a heck of a game. I am not going to say it came down to one call. We had other chances to score and didn’t take advantage.

“One ref called one thing and another called something else. It happens. The refs are doing the best they can. There is no animosity toward the officials.”

Penn-Trafford lost four straight to close the season as the offense went quiet for large stretches. It lost to North Allegheny, Butler and Oakland Catholic while averaging just 27.7 points. The Warriors had 23 against Oakland Catholic.

There were games when it seemed Penn-Trafford couldn’t miss, yet others when they fell into lulls.

Baldwin outscored Penn-Trafford in the fourth, 10-4.

“We battled and played physical,” Woodson said. “In the fourth quarter, we didn’t let them get a shot off. We knew we had to close out on their shooters.”

Said Dryburgh: “We had a group text from coach. He said we had to get a hand in their face. We did that, and we dominated inside.”

Prady had four 3-pointers, but she and freshman Olivia Pepple, who scored 14, dealt with face-guarding defense, led by sophomore Bri Swailes.

“In the fourth quarter, we had some good looks. We just didn’t make them,” Giannikas said. “Our defense kept us in the game. I am proud of the kids. They can look each other in the eye and know they gave everything they had tonight. I wouldn’t want to coach a different group of girls.”

Penn-Trafford led by six early, but that gap quickly closed as the Highlanders answered every highlight with one of their own. A 9-0 run by the Warriors gave them a 24-18 lead with 1:55 to go in the first half.

Baldwin ended the half with a three-point play from Lucarelli to get within 24-22 at intermission. Dryburgh scored nine in the second period.

“Both teams made the other work hard,” Giannikas said. “(Dryburgh) is a player. She made some big plays for them.”

In the third, Swailes scored on a drive, Altavilla added a layup, and Dryburgh hit a long jumper to give the Highlanders a 31-29 lead. Dryburgh knocked down a 3, but the Warriors answered with 3s from Pepple and Prady before Suman scored to close the third with Penn-Trafford ahead, 39-36.

Lucarelli and Altavilla scored eight each for Baldwin. Radomsky chipped in seven.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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