Seton LaSalle girls take down Jeannette in opening round of WPIAL playoffs

Saturday, February 27, 2021 | 4:05 PM

It has been eight years since the Jeannette girls basketball team last won a WPIAL basketball playoff game.

It took only eight minutes Saturday afternoon before the harsh reality set in that the Jayhawks postseason drought would continue.

Junior Ava Dursi scored 22 points while senior teammate Emma Walsh chipped in 18 points to lead host Seton LaSalle past Jeannette, 67-18, in a WPIAL Class 2A preliminary-round playoff game.

The Rebels improved to 6-5 overall and advance to the first round Tuesday to face No. 4 seed Sewickley Academy.

“They’re a really strong team,” Seton LaSalle coach Jordan Giles said of her upcoming opponent. “We have a lot of work to do in these next two days to get ready for them.”

There was not a lot of wasted energy Saturday for the Rebels. They outscored the Jayhawks, 23-7, in the opening quarter.

The Rebels did want they wanted in the second quarter. They drained 3-pointers, worked the ball to the blocks for short shots and turned turnovers from a pressure defense into layups that gave the Rebels a 30-1 scoring advantage in the second quarter and a 53-8 lead at the half.

Against a Jeannette zone defense, Seton-LaSalle took advantage and drained seven 3-pointers in the first half with Walsh and junior Mackenzie Canavan connecting for three each.

“Our three guards are our three captains,” Giles said of Walsh, Canavan and junior Mara Tucci. “They set the tone for how we’re going to go and how we’re going to play. If they start to play down, the rest of the girls are going to follow so I need them to be on the top of their game every single time.”

It was a slow start to the season for the Rebels, who may be finding their groove at just the right time. After the mandatory three-week shutout in December, the team returned in early January, practiced three times and had to shut down again for more two weeks because of covid issues.

“We were behind the 8-ball, and you could definitely tell those in those beginning games,” Giles said. “They took it in stride and have been putting in the work in the gym, and we’ve been going forward with that.”

The open tournament gave Jeannette (0-19) the chance to participate in the playoffs for the first time since 2014.

Sophomore Zoey Vincent led a very young Jayhawks team with 11 points.

“The sky is the limit for her; she’s a great player,” Jeannette coach Jonathan Bass said. “She’s young and has only been playing basketball for two years.”

Despite the tough season and the disappointing outcome Saturday, Bass is excited about what he hopes is a positive step for his young program.

“I’m just in this for the kids and the wins will come. They’re sophomores now, but my goal is to be back here legitimately (in the playoffs) when they are seniors.”

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