Timmerson’s Career-High Day Leads North Allegheny to 6A Girls’ Title
In the fall, Jasmine Timmerson will call the Petersen Events Center home when she suits up for the Pitt Panthers women’s basketball team. But in March, for the North Allegheny girls’ basketball team, Timmerson made the Pete her house for the evening on her way to a career-high performance.
No. 2 North Allegheny was guided by Timmerson to a commanding 71-45 championship victory over No. 1 Upper St. Clair to claim Class 6A gold for the fifth time in seven years.
Timmerson put together a career-best 30-point performance along with six rebounds and four assists on the court that she will spend the next four years playing on.
“I don’t think it’s so much about the court as it is about my teammates,” Timmerson said. “To have that kind of game with my teammates means a lot to me.”
A year ago, North Allegheny (20-5) fell at the hands of Upper St. Clair (21-3) in the semifinals, but this year, the Tigers made no mistake as they handled the Panthers easily.
“Last year, it was tough losing,” Eva Prenatt said. “There was a lot of tears and frustration and we rolled back and we came back and we won.”
As seniors, Timmerson, Prenatt and Cam Phillips wanted to make sure they ended their WPIAL careers with one last championship.
“It is a lot better than last year, it doesn’t even compare,” Timmerson said.
The Tigers entered the championship matchup with the top-seeded Panthers coming off the heels of a low-scoring affair with Norwin. On the biggest stage, the Tigers put together their third-highest point total of the season.
“We knew what we had to do coming into the game,” Phillips said. “We game planned all week and it went good for us today.”
As North Allegheny consistently hit its shots, Timmerson was in the forefront of it all. Evidently, at the beginning of the second quarter, when one of her shots wouldn’t fall, she snuffed out a loose rebound from a pile of players under the hoop as she then went and finished with her left hand.
In what was a competitive game through the first quarter and a half started to get out of hand for the Panthers down the stretch of the second quarter. Caroline Henderson and Kellie McConnell both sank threes as the Tigers went on an 8-0 run to finish the first half.
“At the end of the first half is when we really started to box out and clean the glass,” Timmerson said. “In the first quarter, we let a couple offensive boards for them. Once we cleaned that up, we started to gain momentum and that’s when we started to feel the energy.”
North Allegheny entered the second half with a 32-17 lead and the Tigers continued the offensive onslaught. While Timmerson and company shot 60.7 percent from the floor in the second half, they were met by Upper St. Clair’s Rylee Kalocay.
With the score already lopsided, Kalocay stepped up in a big way after some motivation from her teammate and senior leader Sam Prunzik, who was injured in the semifinal matchup with Mt. Lebanon and was sidelined for the championship game.
“Sam, actually had a talk with me at halftime,” Kalocay. “She pulled me aside and told me to go out there and do what you normally do. She was straight up honest with me, which I appreciate. She said ‘you were trying to outdo it in the first half. You just got to settle down and play how you were supposed to play.’ I looked at her and I was like ‘you’re right.’ I felt terrible that was the way she was thinking, so I knew I had to change the way I was thinking.”
After that conversation, Kalocay caught fire, scoring 21 of Upper St. Clair’s 28 second half points. The 5-foot-9 sophomore knew she had to play with a different approach in the second half if the Panthers wanted any shot of taking down the Tigers.
“I realized that this is my seniors’ last go. The least I can do is do anything I can to help them win,” Kalocay said.
Even with Kalocay putting Upper St. Clair on her back, it was not enough as North Allegheny was too much for the Panthers. Timmerson just continued to find the basket as she notched 17 second half points while dishing out crafty assists to her teammates. Alongside Timmerson, Lydia Betz and Kellie McConnell helped put the Panthers away. Betz finished with 17 points and McConnell registered 11.
Not only did the Tigers find success from the paint, they also stroked a few big-time threes from beyond the arc. The Tigers finished from three-point range at 36.8% including three triples from Caroline Henderson.
“I expect to make about 30 percent of [threes],” North Allegheny head coach Spencer Stefko said. “If we’re rebounding well, I expect to get 40 percent of those misses and that’s what gives us the confidence to shoot those. We think we are pretty good at rebounding those shots. Threes create longer shots and we are good at chasing those down.”
As North Allegheny lifted the trophy following the game, it was a symbol of a team that had fought through adversity. With the Tigers sitting at 4-3 overall just at the start of the calendar year, the team put together a string of 16 wins in 18 games on the way to a gold medal
“We lost two games by 30 this year,” Stefko said. “There were times where all of us were grabbing at this straw and that straw and these kids simply reinvented themselves into a good basketball team. I couldn’t be prouder of a group of kids to come as far as they have come since December.”
For Upper St. Clair, this marks back-to-back seasons where the Panthers came up just short of a championship as they lost to Mt. Lebanon at the Pete last season.
“This was a tough one,” Upper St. Clair head coach Pete Serio said. “We didn’t play well and NA played really well. We have to face facts and go back to work.”
Upper St. Clair’s seniors have seen it all and Kate Robbins – who scored 10 on the evening – touched on the past four years.
“We’ve been a group since we’ve been little,” she said. “We are with each other more than our family. We’re going to look back at these four years and be proud of what we accomplished and not get that gold stings a little.”
Upper St. Clair and North Allegheny will now prepare for the PIAA state playoffs.