WPIAL Girls Basketball Player of the Week — Week ending Feb. 22

Sunday, February 23, 2020 | 10:13 PM

Nearly 30 years ago, back in 1991, the Michigan men’s basketball team made history by starting five freshmen and reaching the NCAA championship game. They were known as the Fab 5.

They may not reach the heights of that famous group, but the freshmen on the Upper St. Clair girls basketball team are turning a lot of heads.

Four freshmen start for USC: Mia Brown, Ava Keating, Samantha Prunzik and Katelyn Robbins.

All 52 points scored in the Panthers quarterfinals upset 52-39 win over No. 3 Norwin were scored by ninth graders, including a game-high 30 points by Robbins.

“Kate really came to play (Friday) night,” Upper St. Clair coach Peter Serio said. “Kate’s biggest strength is not that she wants to be good, it’s that she wants to work to be good. She works on things until she gets it right.”

Robbins got a lot right in the second half against the Knights as she scored 21 points in the third and fourth quarters and finished 11 of 12 from the free-throw line.

“I think the difference in the halves was the team becoming more comfortable with the pressure of Norwin’s defense,” Serio said. “Once we did that, Kate got more opportunities.”

Her eye-popping final stats were 30 points, 20 rebounds, two assists and two steals.

“Kate’s biggest strength is not that she wants to be good, it’s that she wants to work to be good,” Serio said. “She works on things until she gets it right.”

Serio said he was excited about this group of freshmen coming into his program, especially with Robbins and her reputation.

“Once I became aware of Kate’s work ethic, I knew she was going to be a good one.”

The Panthers clinched a berth in the PIAA Class 6A playoffs with the win over Norwin and join Section 2 rivals Bethel Park and Mt. Lebanon in the WPIAL semifinals.

Upper St. Clair knocked off one Section 1 co-champ in Norwin and now faces the other team that tied for the section crown — North Allegheny — on Tuesday at North Hills.

“Playing North Allegheny will be a very difficult test for us,” Serio said. “They are a well-coached, well-balanced team. From top to bottom they check all the boxes. We are going to need a great team effort to play with them.”

Honorable mentions:

Alyssa D’Angelo, Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson senior and leading scorer D’Angelo already was having a good afternoon with 17 points as her team took a 39-31 lead into the fourth quarter. That’s when the senior really went to work with 13 points as the Jaguars secured another trip to the final four and a title-game rematch against defending champion Chartiers Valley with a 12-point win over Oakland Catholic.

Kat Goetz, Avonworth

Avonworth finished only one game behind Section 1 co-champs Beaver and Mohawk, the teams that earned the top two seeds in the Class 3A playoffs. So unlike the Bobcats and Warriors, the Antelopes had to play in the first round, giving Goetz and company another game to shine. The senior scored 20 points in a win over Brownsville, then 21 in a 14-point victory over No. 4 South Park.

Natalie Jasper, Ellis School

Last week, junior Jasper was our Trib HSSN girls basketball Player of the Week after her efforts in a first-round win for The Ellis School. Now she is an honorable mention, but more importantly, she scored 34 points in a quarterfinals upset of Vincentian Academy in double overtime.

Previous Trib HSSN Players of the Week:

Week Nine- Natalie Jasper – Ellis School

Week Eight – Maggie Dziezgowski, Bethel Park

Week Seven – Bella Skobel, Charleroi

Week Six – Sydney Cook, New Brighton

Week Five – Reilly Sunday, Moon

Week Four – Ashleigh Connor, Mt. Lebanon

Week Three – Alyssa Pollice, Bishop Canevin

Week Two – Jhayla Bray, McKeesport

Week One – Kennedie Montue, Plum

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