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WPIAL

Union Makes Comeback to Defeat St. Joseph for Second Straight WPIAL 1A Girls’ Basketball Title

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Union. St. Joseph. WPIAL Girls Basketball

PITTSBURGH — Union found themselves down double-digits early on, but managed to make the comeback to defeat St. Joseph  50-43, in overtime for the WPIAL 1A girls’ basketball Championship Saturday afternoon at the Petersen Events Center.

The Scotties (19-5) win their second straight and overall WPIAL Title in girls’ basketball, as they defeated the Aquinas Academy Crusaders last season, 52-35. The loss for the Spartans (21-4) ends their opportunity to win their first WPIAL Title in girls’ basketball.

Union started out the game with a 7-3 lead, thanks to seniors in forward Kelly Cleaver making a layup and a jumper and Bella Cameron hitting from deep.

St. Joseph would respond with a 13-0 run in just a little more than two minutes. Senior guard Julie Spinelli led her team by converting an and-one opportunity off a layup, hitting from behind the arc and making two free throws for eight points. Her efforts gave the underdog a 16-9 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Senior forward Maggie Bernat and Spinelli both made layups to begin the second quarter, putting the Spartans up 20-9 for a double-digit advantage. The Scotties cut into that lead with a 9-2 scoring run over three minutes, with sophomore guard Miera Gunn making two foul shots, Cleaver hitting from mid-range twice and Cameron making a shot from behind the arc to make it a four-point game.

Spinelli got the last shot for the Spartans, converting another and-one layup to make it a 25-18 lead at halftime.

Union opened the second half with a 7-2 run, with junior guard Kylie Fruehstorfer and Gunn making 3-pointers to trim the deficit to just two points.

St. Joseph got more help from Spinelli as she hit a 3-pointer, but Cleaver made two free throws and a layup to cut the lead to one. Bernat would score a buzzer beating shot in the paint to keep St. Joseph up 32-29 at the end of the third quarter.

The two teams traded baskets to start off the fourth quarter, with Cleaver making a jumper and Fruehstorfer hitting from behind the arc for the Scotties and junior guard Gia Richter scoring a jumper and senior forward Emma Swierczewski getting a layup for the Spartans.

Cleaver would score two layups for the Scotties to give them their first lead since the first quarter, but Spartans senior center Anna Kreinbrook hit a layup to tie the game.

A poor turnover from Union allowed Richter to drive to the basket and then hit two free throws after Gunn fouled her. Union then leveled it with junior guard/forward Mia Preuhs making two foul shots on the next possession.

Spinelli then hit a layup to give St. Joseph the lead, but Cleaver responded with a mid-range jumper to tie it with a minute to go.

Kreinbrook turned it over on the next possession, giving the Scotties a chance with 25 seconds to go. Clever then turned it over on a five-second call under the basket and the Spartans didn’t get a shot up with four seconds left, sending the game into overtime.

Fruehstorfer hit a free throw to give the Union the lead and then hit two more with about a minute to go, as they winded the clock down. She would make two more foul shots, while Union won it in overtime with other players making it to the line, with Cleaver leading the way by making four shots.

Cleaver led the way with 25 points, while Pruehs had a team-high 14 rebounds in the victory for the Scotties. Spinelli finished with a team-high 19 points for the Spartans and Kreinbrook led with 13 rebounds.

Union will face District nine fifth place finalist Port Allegany, a school near the Pennsylvania/New York border in Allegany in the First Round of the PIAA playoffs next Saturday, March 9. St. Joseph will face District six third place finalist St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy from Boalsburg, near State College on the same day.

Union/St. Joseph Press Conferences

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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