HIGH SCHOOL GIRLS' BASKETBALL: Indians dealt stunning loss in first round
FOX CHAPEL — Indiana knew it had a tough matchup in the first round of the WPIAL Class AAA girls’ basketball playoffs.
But no one knew it was going to be that tough.
West Mifflin rolled over the Indians, 63-39, Wednesday evening at Fox Chapel High School.
The WPIAL Section 3-AAA champions, Indiana finished its season at 18-5.
“We went and watched them Saturday and they seemed manageable at that point,” Indiana senior guard Kaitlyn Hoff said. “I was pretty confident going into this game. I thought we were going to give them a run for their money. I knew they were going to be strong, quick, athletic, but they hit every single shot tonight. That’s just something that doesn’t come around very much, and I’m not sure if they could shoot like that every game.”
“They’re a very solid team,” Indiana coach Dave Woodall said. “We play that team 10 times, we’re not going to beat them once. They were just that good.”
West Mifflin (16-5) finished third in a tough Section 4-AAA and fell to the No. 12 seed, making one heck of a first-round challenge for fifth-seeded Indiana. The Titans drove right at the Indians’ defense and still had success even when they had to shoot from outside. They finished at 49.1 percent shooting (28 of 57).
West Mifflin outscored Indiana 25-8 in the second quarter and took a 42-19 lead into halftime. The Titans led by as many as 30 in the second half.
“We did what coaches do,” West Mifflin coach Scott Stephenson said. “We ran that 12-, five-seed — you were disrespected with the 12. I don’t know if I believe all that. They earned what they earned, and we earned what we earned, but as a coach you’ve got to use motivating tactics. You’ve got to be a motivator as well as a leader. That’s what got our girls pumped up today. We tried to say, hey, we’re not a 12 seed. (The selection committee) disrespected us, and that’s just how it went. We tried to motivate them the best we could and they responded. I can’t say a bad thing about how they played today.”
Ciara Patterson, a 5-foot-7 guard, scored a game-high 25 points and worked seamlessly with forward Taylor Thomas, who scored 16. Indiana simply didn’t have an answer.
“I saw (Patterson) in person twice and on film a couple times, but never did she play like that,” Woodall said. “She was just putting shots in from every angle on the floor.”
“I was a little worried, but I knew one thing, we were more athletic than them,” Stephenson said. “It’s no disrespect to them. We’ve got athletes and we play that up tempo. That’s when we’re at our best, when we push the ball.”
Indiana didn’t do any better on the other side of the floor, shooting 28.1 percent (16 of 57) overall.
Lucy Bujdos led the Indians with 12 points, and Hoff, one of just two seniors on the team, scored 10.
“I don’t’ think we could’ve done anything more as a team,” Hoff said. “I don’t think we could’ve played any harder on defense. We worked our butts off. They just got, I wouldn’t say lucky, but they hit every single shot they took.”
Hoff helped carry the torch in the program, taking the lead after a couple highly successful classes graduated and sent a few players into college basketball.
“I couldn’t have asked for better coaches and for better teammates to spend these last three years with,” she said. “I’m excited to go on and play in college. I don’t’ know exactly where I’m going yet, I haven’t decided for sure, but I am going on. So it’s not the end of the world for me, but it’s still really sad to see this come to an end, because I love these girls.”
Early in the season, Indiana didn’t even necessarily have the look of a playoff-bound team, let alone a section champion. The tables turned as the season went on.
“We had an outstanding season,” Woodall said. “This doesn’t diminish that at all. You always want to do well in the playoffs and that’s always a goal when you get to the playoffs. We got a great seed but we got a bad matchup, you might say. But we had a great year. The girls got along all year long. This was a very enjoyable season even without the wins and losses.”