Neshannock girls secure state berth with win
Neshannock (44) Vs. Chartiers-Houston (31)
By Ron Poniewasz Jr.
New Castle News

DORMONT — This time, the night belonged to the Neshannock High girls basketball team.

Last year, the Lady Lancers were eliminated from the WPIAL Class AA playoffs in the second game of the WPIAL Class AA play-in bracket by Chartiers-Houston.

Monday night, Neshannock turned the tables on the Lady Buccaneers.Bella Burrelli tossed in a team-high 15 points to lead the Lady Lancers to a 44-31 WPIAL Class AA play-in game at Keystone Oaks High School.

The win vaults Neshannock (20-4) into the PIAA playoffs and also into the final round of the play-in games. The Lady Lancers will meet Burrell (20-5), a 67-46 winner over Riverside, Thursday at a time and site to be determined.

A win over Burrell gives Neshannock the No. 5 seed out of the WPIAL in the state playoffs and a loss pushes the squad to the No. 6 seed.

"It is exciting and it’ll be fun," Lady Lancers coach Luann Grybowski said of reaching the PIAA playoffs and the final round of the play-in bracket. "Every game is a plus, every game gets you more experience. It takes you a little bit further so that, years down the road, you want to be there. So it makes you hungry.”

Burrelli was 6 of 12 from the floor, tallying eight markers in the opening half and seven more in the second half. She added a team-high seven rebounds as well.

"It feels great," Burrelli said of moving on. "We got farther than last year, so that’s a big accomplishment. “I love this. I’m just so excited."

Grybowski noted that Burrelli was a key component in her team pulling out the win.

"She was outstanding," Grybowski said of Burrelli. "For a freshman, she played great.

"She does so many things well that, if she does make a mistake, I don’t have the heart to yell at her because she makes so many other things happen. She’s long, she blocks shots, she brings us energy and is always talking. She has a bright future, she’ll be a good one for us.”

Things didn't start positively for the Lady Lancers. They opened the tilt in a 7-0 hole and committed 11 first-half turnovers.

Despite that rough start, Neshannock trailed just 9-7 after one period and led 19-18 at the break.

"Four turnovers on the first four possessions (of the game) and we didn’t even get a shot," Grybowski said. "We shot 28 percent in the first half, too."

"You get them in the locker room and you yell and scream. I told them at the half that they had (11) turnovers already, 12 is our number. Throughout the season we’ve been pretty good with that, with the exception of Bishop (Canevin). We knew they were going to keep pressuring, so we had to find the guy in the middle, use the sideline and we did. When we did it right, we had good opportunities. I think
that’s what turned it around, we only had three turnovers in the second half.”

Neshannock took better care of the ball in the second half and led the whole second half after Burrelli's bucket with 4:20 to go in the third period gave the squad a 21-20 margin.

“I’m just excited to play," Burrelli said. "If I make an error, you just have to shake it off, play defense and focus on the next play.”

“We need to control the turnovers. I think we had 14 turnovers tonight, so we just have to be smart with the ball.”

Ally Zarilla, who finished with eight markers, gave the Lady Lancers their first double-digit lead of the matchup when she hit a pull-up jumper with 3:18 to go. That put Neshannock up 40-30.

"Ally has all of the fundamentals and she might be the purest shooter that I’ve seen in girls basketball," Grybowski said. "Plus she’s versatile, she can hit the three, pull up and attack the rim.

"That was a good decision on her part and she knocked it down. She’s
going to get better. Sometimes she plays a little faster than her mind can take and rushes a little bit. When she settles in, she’ll be a great player.”

Aidan Noga notched nine markers and three steals for the Lady Lancers. Stephanie Paras provided four points and four steals.

Jala Walker registered a game-high 19 points for Chartiers-Houston (20-5).

Game Scoreboard
Neshannock 7 12 10 15 0 44
Chartiers-Houston 9 9 8 5 0 31
Box Scores
Stephanie Paras 0 4-4 4
Aidan Noga 3 2-5 9
Regan Moorhouse 1 0-0 2
Bella Burrelli 6 3-8 15
Ally Zarilla 2 3-4 8
Hannah Haswell 1 0-0 2
Carmie Matarazzo 2 0-0 4
Totals: 15 12 21 44

Cassidy Stollar 0 0-0 0
Keaira Walker 1 3-4 5
Julia Vulcano 1 0-4 2
Jala Walker 9 1-5 19
Savannah Wheeler 0 0-0 0
Madison Simpson 1 1-2 3
Jordan Simpson 0 2-2 2
Marcy Mazutis 0 0-0 0
Jessica Southern 0 0-0 0
Totals: 12 7 17 31

NESHANNOCK 7 12 10 15 — 44
CHAR-HOUSTON 9 9 8 5 — 31

3-point goals — Neshannock 2 (Noga 1, Zarilla 1).
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