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PIAA FINALS Slipper doesn't fit Union anymore



Published: Thu, March 20, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



The Scotties play defending champion Scotland School for the Class A title.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Union basketball coach Mark Stanley says his players enjoy being the underdog, but he isn't so sure the tag still fits.

"I don't know if you can say we're a Cinderella team anymore," Stanley said after Union upset Kennedy Catholic 40-39 in a PIAA Class A boys semifinal Tuesday.

"I think the slipper has come off."

If Union (20-10) defeats Scotland School (24-7) for the PIAA Class A title Friday at the Giant Center in Hershey, it will be a remarkable ending to a totally unexpected season.

Friday games

The Class A final, set for 3 p.m., will be one of four PIAA title games Friday in Hershey. Perry Traditional Academy (23-7), the Pittsburgh City League champion, takes on undefeated Lancaster Catholic (34-0) in the boys Class AAA final at 8 p.m.

In girls action, Oakland Catholic (27-5) meets Downingtown (26-6) for the Class AAAA championship at 6 p.m. and Girard (26-5) plays Delone Catholic (29-5) in the Class AA final at 1 p.m.

Union reached the final despite only tying for third place in its section. Union went on to win its first District 7 title when it defeated Clairton 52-48 and has kept on going in the PIAA playoffs.

Union has won eight consecutive games despite not having a starter taller than 6-foot-2, relying on tough defense and timely shooting.

The Scotties appeared overmatched against Kennedy Catholic, which had won five consecutive Class A western finals and had front-line players of 6-foot-5, 6-5 and 6-4.

Now, it's the Scotties vs. Scotland School.

Scotland will be playing in its sixth PIAA final since 1990, winning titles in 1994, 1995 and last season. Scotland is coming off a 64-47 victory against Muncy.

"A number of teams have been able to hang with them for a quarter or even a half," Muncy coach Al Barraco said. "But they even turn the intensity up more the second half, if that's possible."

All starters returned

In Class AAA, Lancaster Catholic will be trying to become the first Lancaster County team to win a PIAA title since Columbia in 1987.

The Crusaders knocked off Steelton-Highspire 66-60 in the semifinals and have an experienced squad led by 6-1 senior Greg Testa, 6-4 junior Ryan Purvis and 6-3 senior Mason Weeks.

All of Lancaster Catholic coach Bill Southward's starters returned from last season's team that advanced to the second round of the PIAA playoffs.

Perry winning the Class AAA Western regional is something of a surprise. The Commodores defeated Franklin 77-74 in double overtime in a PIAA semifinal, relying on quickness and solid defense.

District 7 champion Blackhawk was considered the team to beat in the west, but Perry edged the Cougars 60-50 in a quarterfinal.

Oakland Catholic will be playing in its fourth consecutive girls Class AAAA final under departing coach Suzie McConnell Serio. It won the PIAA title in 2001, defeating Council Rock, but lost to Cumberland Valley 54-44 last year.

Final game for coach

This will be McConnell Serio's final game at Oakland Catholic. The former Penn State and Cleveland Rockers star takes over as the coach of Minnesota's WNBA team next month.

Downingtown is making its eighth title game appearance since 1984 and is looking for its sixth championship. Oakland Catholic defeated Downingtown 57-53 in the 1993 championship game.

Downingtown is led by 6-5 sophomore Emma Moretzsohn, who had 17 points and 11 rebounds in the victory against Council Rock North. Oakland Catholic's top player is Meg Bulger, a 5-11 West Virginia recruit who had 19 points against State College and has scored more than 2,000 career points.

Girard is in the girls Class AA final for the third time in six years. Like Delone Catholic, its championship game opponent, Girard lost in the PIAA semifinals last season.

Freshman Meredith Cox led Delone Catholic with 14 points in its victory against Catasauqua on Tuesday night. Carrie Nolan scored 29 points as Girard edged Washington, 57-51. Delone Catholic has won its four PIAA playoff games by an average of 22 points.




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