Trib HSSN Girls Basketball Team of the Week: Thomas Jefferson Jaguars

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Monday, March 18, 2019 | 5:55 PM


The Trib HSSN Girls Basketball Team of the Week missed out on district gold when losing in the WPIAL finals, but now it is two wins away from state gold — the Thomas Jefferson Jaguars.

After beating Trinity in the first round of the PIAA playoffs, Thomas Jefferson coach Lisa Fairman knew her team would be shorthanded for the next round or two if they were successful in advancing.

Junior Dalaney Ranallo, a 5-foot-11 Old Dominion recruit in soccer, was headed to a national soccer tournament on the other side of the country. She had been planning to play in the event for months.

“We really didn’t make too many changes,” Fariman said of playing without Ranallo. “It was really just a matter of everyone stepping up both on the offensive end and defensive end and owning the boards to allow us to get into transition.

“Dalaney has provided a double/double for us in many games this year, and I told the team we need to pick it up and cover that.”

The Jaguars thrived and survived without Ranallo’s size in PIAA second-round and quarterfinal wins.

In Round 2, Thomas Jefferson used a big second quarter to gain a 32-18 halftime edge on its way to a 55-41 victory over Mount Saint Joseph.

The Jaguars used a balanced attack on offense with Jenna Clark scoring 18 points, Alyssa DeAngleo chipping in 17 points and Lisa’s daughter, Graci Fairman, adding 16.

“It was huge having Jenna, Alyssa and Graci balance the offense,” Fairman said. “Many teams focus on Jenna and Alyssa, and to have Graci chip in 16 points was huge. It’s tough to defend when you have three guards hitting from the outside, plus attacking the rim.

“I tell my team all the time that everyone needs to be a threat on the court at all times.”

In the quarterfinals, TJ cranked up the defense, holding District 3 champion Palmyra to only one double-digit quarter in a 48-39 win.

“The key today was our defensive pressure,” Fairman said afterward. “After watching Palymra on film, they are very patient on offense and like to wear teams down, so we kicked it up with several different presses to keep them off balance and force them to play our style. Then, we did a good job on the boards.

“Again, everyone stepped up and we got some big rebounds and put-backs from a young sophomore, Maddy Trainer.”

So win or lose on Tuesday, this Thomas Jefferson girls basketball team has accomplished something no other team in school history has, a berth in the PIAA semifinals.

“We are so pumped and excited to be in the Final Four of the states,” Fairman said. “These girls know they made history at TJ, and we are hungry to want more.”

More comes in the way of the undefeated Chartiers Valley Colts on Tuesday at Peters Township.

This is the fourth meeting between the two Section 1-5A rivals with the Colts winning the first three, including a 64-48 decision in the WPIAL Class 5A title game.

“We need everyone to bring all they have against Chartiers Valley,” Fairman said. “We know them well now; it’s about going out and executing. We need to be strong from the jump ball to the end. We need to be relentless on defense and do our job on the boards.”

Don Rebel hosts the Rebel Yell podcasts for HSSN.

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