Thomas Jefferson girls send Plum packing in WPIAL 1st round

Tuesday, February 19, 2019 | 11:13 PM

The Thomas Jefferson girls basketball team won seven of eight games, including five in a row, to close out the regular season.

The only loss in that stretch was to undefeated and top-seeded Chartiers Valley by three points.

The Jaguars, seeded sixth in the WPIAL Class 5A tournament, kept rolling Tuesday after an 11-day break and topped No. 11 Plum, 79-36, in a first-round matchup at North Allegheny.

“This is big for us,” said TJ junior guard Alyssa DeAngelo, who scored a season-high 26 points to go along with seven rebounds. “Last year, we made it to the second round and lost, so we’re hoping for a big playoff run.”

Thomas Jefferson advances to the quarterfinals against No. 3 Gateway on Saturday at a site and time to be determined.

The Jaguars and Gators, who split two games as section foes last season, met again in the WPIAL quarterfinals, and Gateway scored a three-point victory en route to the WPIAL championship.

“One game at a time, and you can’t take anything for granted,” Thomas Jefferson coach Lisa Fairman said. “Every team that makes it to the playoffs is good. We didn’t even think about Gateway until this game was over. Now we have to go to work and prepare for them on Saturday.”

Plum, in the WPIAL playoffs for the third straight season and ninth time in the past 10 years, concludes its campaign at 11-12.

Thomas Jefferson jumped out to a quick 8-0 lead and was ahead 12-1 before Plum responded with a 9-2 run. The Jaguars held a 14-10 advantage with 48 second left in the first quarter before embarking on a 16-0 run over the next three minutes to take control.

“We turned the ball over too many times and were one for 13 from 3-point range,” Plum coach Steve Elsier said. “We didn’t execute the way we wanted at times. Thomas Jefferson is too good of a team for that, and they took advantage.”

TJ led 30-10 at the 5:19 mark of the second quarter and went into halftime ahead 37-19. The Jaguars defense forced Plum into 14 first-half turnovers.

“The girls remained calm and worked through some things early,” Fairman said. “We stayed disciplined on defense and forced a lot of turnovers. We were able to execute from there with penetrating, dishing and hitting shots with a nice inside-outside game.”

For good measure, Thomas Jefferson opened the third quarter on an 11-2 run.

“It’s the playoffs, and you have to be relentless until you feel its secure,” Fairman said.

Yale recruit Jenna Clark, who came in averaging 22 points, tallied 25 points to go along with six assists, and Dalaney Ranallo contributed to the win with 12 points, 11 rebounds and six steals.

The Jaguars finished one point shy of their season high of 80 scored in a section victory over Lincoln Park in late January.

For Plum, sophomore forward Kennedie Montue scored 20 points and added seven rebounds. She was the lone Mustangs player in double figures.

“We grew as a program this year and won double the games we won last year,” Elsier said. “We did some good things, and I’m proud of the girls. We still have work to do. We have to keep plugging away.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at or via Twitter .

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