Cal proves ’em wrong, upsets North Catholic

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McMURRAY – Freshman Jenna Miller and senior Tristen Conaway combined for 32 points, and California overcame a five-point deficit in the final 90 seconds, as the Trojans stunned third-seeded Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic, 45-43, in a WPIAL Class A girls basketball quarterfinal game Saturday afternoon at Peters Township High School.


The win was the 13th in a row and the biggest of the season for California (19-3), which advances to Wednesday night’s semifinals and clinched a berth in the PIAA tournament. The Trojans will play second-seeded Serra Catholic (22-2), a 65-16 winner over Aliquippa, at a site and time to be determined.


California is the only team from Washington or Greene counties still alive in the WPIAL playoffs.


“Every time someone says we can’t do something, we go out and prove them wrong,” California coach Chris Minerd said. “We weren’t supposed to win the section and we did. We weren’t supposed to win last week (against Winchester Thurston) in the playoffs, and we did. We definitely weren’t supposed to win today. We hope to have enough energy left Wednesday to prove everyone wrong again.”


North Catholic ends its season with a 16-8 record after leading California 41-36 with 1:30 remaining.


Conaway, who scored 14 points, started California’s comeback by making a three-pointer to pull the Trojans to within 41-39. After a North Catholic score, Miller sank a three to cut Cal’s deficit to a single point. Cal’s defense then forced two turnovers, including a key steal by Miller. The takeaways led to Kylie Huffman converting three of four free throws, giving the Trojans the lead.


Miller led California with 18 points and was 4-for-6 from three-point range. She also had five assists and four rebounds. Conaway scored 14 points and Huffman contributed nine points, 12 rebounds and five blocked shots. Junior Danielle Koehler scored only two points but they came on a key jumper that tied the score in the fourth quarter.


“This game was amazing,” Minerd said. “We started three freshmen. North Catholic is a young team, too, but it was definitely a David vs. Goliath scenario.”


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