DORMONT – When the WPIAL basketball brackets are released next season, teams from the Washington area may join together with one request for the seeding committee: Whatever you do, please keep us away from Burrell.
Two nights after the Burrell boys eliminated Washington High School with an 18-0 run in the fourth quarter, the Burrell girls basketball team ended McGuffey’s season with an 18-0 spurt that straddled the second and third quarters.
The run, strange as it was, especially in a three-day span, produced a 61-41 win for Burrell in a WPIAL Class AA quarterfinal game at Keystone Oaks.
“With that 18-0 run, that kind of deflates you,” said McGuffey coach Amanda Burchett.
McGuffey trailed by two when Sammie Weiss made a jumper with 3:44 remaining in the second quarter, but the Bucs rattled off the next 18 points, making six field goals during the stretch to push the game out of reach.
Burrell (22-2) had four players reach double figures, led by Sydney Bordonaro’s 17 points. Kelsey Oddis contributed 15 points, Natalie Myers had 12 and Jaila Manga 10. Bordonaro finished with five steals, and Myers pulled down eight rebounds.
McGuffey (20-3) got 23 points from Weiss and nine from Rachel Czulewicz, but nobody else made multiple field goals.
Five Burrell players scored during that decisive run.
“When we get a run like that, we got more confident when those nerves came off,” Bucs coach Meghan Ziemianski said. “They all turned into scorers.”
Burrell advanced to the WPIAL Class AA semifinals for the first time since 1994, and the Bucs will play No. 2 seed Bishop Canevin at a site and time to be determined. With seven Class AA teams receiving bids to the PIAA playoffs, McGuffey needs Burrell to win to ensure itself of an invitation, though the Highlanders still have an outside chance if the Bucs lose.
Things were uncommonly upbeat in the McGuffey locker room after the game, a testament to the Highlanders winning their first section title since 1990, Weiss reaching 1,000 points as a sophomore and nearly the entire team coming back.
“Our girls are very young, and this is the first real experience that we’ve had in playoffs,” Burchett said. “We play a lot of freshmen, sophomores and juniors; we’re all underclassmen. I think we got beat by the better team.
“This entire season we’ve surpassed any expectations that we’ve had for the girls. They’ve surpassed any expectations they’ve had of themselves.”
Burrell scored nine of the final 12 points of the first quarter to take an 18-13 lead after one, with Kelsey Oddis contributing eight points during the period.
Sammie Weiss answered with six for McGuffey, which led, 10-9, following sister Cassie Weiss’ three-pointer, though the Highlanders were slowed by four turnovers in the first eight minutes, eight in the opening half.
It was a one-possession game most of the way through the second until Burrell closed the second quarter on a 7-0 run. Erika Finn came off the bench to score inside, then knocked down a three-pointer, and Natalie Myers made a pair of free throws to push the Bucs ahead, 32-23, at the break.
That run, of course, stretched into the third period, as Burrell made it a 20-point game after Myers converted a pair of free throws at 3:53.
Another 18-0 run by Burrell, another Washington-area team bounced from the playoffs.
“That’s awesome,” Ziemianski said. “Ironic, I guess, right?”