Defensively, Vincentian Academy was a royal pain to Berlin Brothersvalley during their PIAA Class A girls tournament second-round game at Hempfield Area High School.
The Royals created 19 turnovers and forced the Mountaineers into rushed or pressured shots throughout the evening in a 61-48 win for the District 7 squad.
Berlin Brothersvalley, which graduates a quartet of seniors, ends its season at 22-5.
While this is the second straight season that the Royals have ended the Mountaineers’ season in the PIAA tournament, the loss stung as much - if not more - for Berlin Brothersvalley coach Rachel Prosser.
“This one’s tough because the four of them are not coming back,” Prosser said. “That’s the tougher part is losing them in this game.”
Seniors Shelby Coughenour, Erica Craig and Aleesa Fieg each scored 13 points while Gina Trulick started and produced a pair of steals for the District 5 third-place representative.
Vincentian Academy’s Brenna Wise tallied a game-high 24 points and snagged 11 rebounds.
Torrieonna Cash netted 10 points for the Royals.
Wise’s effectiveness was especially evident when the 6-foot junior seemingly negated any sort of Mountaineers run with buckets of her own.
“When you’re the best player on a very good team, that’s what you do,” Prosser said.
“She’s good. I thought Schyler (McClucas) and Erica (Craig) did an excellent job and our help was there. She was able to finish then she made some plays to turn the ball over for us and get easy baskets that way.”
The Royals (24-3) broke away late in the first, turning a 7-6 lead into a 14-6 lead in about 90 seconds.
A layup from Kayla Key, a conventional 3-point play by Wise and a Cash steal-layup combo comprised the 7-0 run following a media stoppage.
While the Mountaineers rallied to cut the Vincentian Academy lead to two points following Fieg’s 3-pointer, the Royals closed out the half emphatically using their press and man defense to create chaos that led to offense on the other end.
Wise scored six points during a 15-2 quarter-closing run that was capped by a jumper from Kiersten Elliott just before the halftime buzzer.
Coughenour connected on two free throws during the Vincentian rampage.
“Against the press, at least in the second quarter, we missed shots early,” Prosser said. “They play tough defense and I think the athleticism they have and strength ... We don’t see that physical play at all.”
A 5-0 burst midway through the third allowed the Mountaineers to pull within 11 following Claire Stochart’s layup.
The Royals closed the third with an 8-5 edge in scoring, using a steal and short-range bucket by Wise and a runner in the key from Elliott while staking to a 46-32 lead after three.
Following Wise’s pull-up jumper to open the fourth, the Mountaineers closed to to 48-38 on two field goals from Craig and a bucket by Fieg. This time it was Cash who answered the Berlin run with a conventional 3-point play just before Wise followed with one of her own.
The Mountaineers never drew closer than 12 the rest of the way.
Shawn Curtis is the sports editor of The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/shawncurtis430.