PIAA Class 2A girls’ basketball: Sacred Heart downs Motivation in state opener

Bensalem – A few minutes after Sacred Heart’s first PIAA state tournament game in six years, head coach Zach Shuler reflected on the Lions’ 50-25 victory against Motivation Friday evening in the opening round of the Class 2A tourney at Bensalem High School.

“This was a great experience for the team,” said Shuler. “Hopefully, our [first-time state playoff] nerves have settled down after this game.”

Sacred Heart will face District 11 champion Minersville (27-0) Tuesday in the second round of States. Minersville defeated Sayre, the third seed from District 12, 86-26, in its state opener.

Against Motivation, the District One champion Lions roared to a 27-7 halftime lead but struggled to score in the first quarter, as both teams committed numerous turnovers in the opening stanza.

“We weren’t in the flow the first 3-4 minutes,” said Shuler.

Motivation, the fourth seed from District 12, was having even more troubles creating an offensive flow, and failed to score a single point until late in the first quarter. The Jaguars committed a wide variety of turnovers in the first quarter (including several travelling violations).

Sacred Heart, leading 2-0 midway through the first quarter, started to settle down and get its offense going late in the opening stanza. Lion junior Eileen Piombino hit a trey after a sharp pass from sophomore Liz Franz, and sophomore Jaycee Webster hit a three-point field goal just before the buzzer to end the first quarter.

All but one of Lions’ first 13 field goals were assisted.

“We do share the ball,” said Shuler. “We have a high rate of assisted baskets this season, somewhere around 75-80 percent. Motivation was playing zone [defense], so we told the players to be sure to make that extra [needed] pass.”

In the second quarter, the Lions’ Kyra Quigley repeatedly worked her way inside, and when she wasn’t making baskets, she was getting fouled. By halftime, Quigley had 10 points (six by free throw). With three minutes left in the game, Quigley had taken all 17 of Sacred Heart’s free throws to that point.

Shuler said, “Motivation knew we wanted to go inside tonight, and they double- and triple-teamed [Quigley].”

“I kept pushing to the basket tonight,” said Quigley, who finished with 17 points. “And I was getting some great passes [thrown to me]. We had some rough patches tonight, but everybody [on the team] pushed each other through.”

Quigley, who was out all last season with an ACL injury, said, “Playing in the state opener was really exciting. I’m grateful and thankful to be a part of it. When the game was over, we were relieved it was over, and are excited for our next game.”

Sacred Heart ran into some foul trouble in the third quarter, with a trio of Lions each picking up a third personal foul.

“We need to be better disciplined on defense,” said Shuler. “We were trying for steals instead of sliding our feet and keeping our opponent in front of us, and we picked up seven quick fouls in the third quarter.”

The Lions led 35-16 at the end of three quarters, then Piombino got hot early in the fourth quarter, hitting three field goals in the final stanza to finish with 14 points.



Sacred Heart 50, Motivation 25

Motivation        2      5     9    9  –   25

Sacred Heart    10    17    8   15  –   50

Motivation: Grant 7 0-1 15, Coles 1 1-1 3, Maestre 0 0-1 0, Brown 0 0-4 0, A. Jallah 1 1-2 3, Conix 1 0-1 2, Miller 1 0-0 2, Totals 11 2-9 25.

Sacred Heart: Franz 1 0-2 2, Piombino 6 0-0 14, Webster 2 0-0 6, Hughes 1 0-0 3, Freind 0 0-2 0, Heilmann 1 0-0 2, Smith 3 0-0 6, Quigley 5 7-17 17, Totals 19 7-21 50.

Three-point field goals: MO – Grant; SH – Piombino 2, Webster 2, Hughes

Personal fouls: Sacred Heart 17, Motivation 22.

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