ROGERSVILLE -- West Greene’s girls basketball team attacks an opponent the way a rising tide attacks a beach: steady, relentlessly and cumulatively.
On Monday night, in the quarterfinals of the WPIAL Class A playoffs, Bishop Canevin was washed away by the Pioneers’ fast-flowing pressure defense.
The Pioneers challenged Bishop Canevin with 32 minutes of physical and mental adversity and the Crusaders broke in the second quarter.
West Greene outscored Bishop Canevin 12-0 in the pivotal second quarter and the Pioneers went on to a 55-36 victory on their home court Monday.
The win improves West Greene’s record to 17-3 and sends the second-seeded Pioneers back to the semifinals as they chase what has been an elusive WPIAL championship. West Greene will host third-seeded Eden Christian (11-6) Thursday at 6 p.m.
For one quarter against Bishop Canevin (7-7), West Greene looked much like a team that had not played a postseason game despite the tournament being in its 10th day. But like a crafty boxer, West Greene was only sizing up its opponent before delivering a knockout punch.
The Pioneers scored the final five points of the first quarter and the last 17 of the first half.
“The game turned in the second quarter,” West Greene coach Jordan Watson said. “We focus on defense. In that second quarter, we hunkered down on defense.”
The second quarter was when a couple of role players came to the forefront for West Greene. Senior guard Elizabeth Brudnock scored nine of her 15 points in the quarter. The only West Greene points not scored by Brudnock in the second period came from Brooke Barner, who connected on a three-pointer from the baseline.
Barner finished with eight points despite battling foul trouble for much of the night.
“Elizabeth had a huge second quarter,” Watson said. “She’s a senior and has been doing this for a while. If our seniors were nervous before the game, I told them that this is nothing new to them. This was their 13th playoff game and they’ve won more playoff games than anybody in the history of the school.
“Elizabeth is the best pure shooter we’ve ever had. She can shoot with anyone. Sometimes it’s like watching Steph Curry shoot at the all-star game. ... And Brooke, she plays at the point of our press because of her length and hustle. She’s a blue-collar player who rebounds like crazy.”
Those are the kind of performances West Greene will need if it is to ultimately cut down the nets after the WPIAL final. It also will need a few more quarters like the second against Bishop Canevin. It turned a 14-11 lead into a commanding 26-11 halftime edge.
“The second quarter just killed us,” Bishop Canevin coach Jim Kaczorowski said. “We turned it over too much, which has been a problem for us all year and bit us tonight. We knew they would come at us with full-court pressure defense and I thought we had a plan for it.”
Bishop Canevin committed 14 turnovers in the first half and 26 in the game. West Greene had only four turnovers during the first half.
“West Greene is a veteran team. They’ve been playing together for three or four years,” Kaczorowski said. “Their seniors have been in the finals for three years. We knew they would be ready to come out and play. We had to match their intensity on their home court.”
The Crusaders did that for the game’s first six minutes before the Pioneers took control. West Greene point guard Jersey Wise, who had a game-high 18 points, scored the first two of the second half to make it a 19-0 run for the Pioneers. The lead grew to as many as 21 points in the third quarter before the Pioneers settled for a 40-22 edge entering the final period.
West Greene attempted 19 free throws in the second half, making 12. Brudnock made two more three-pointers -- the Pioneers were 8-for-18 from long range in the game -- in the second half.
Anna Durbin gave WG three players in double figures, scoring 12.
Ashley Lippold led Canevin with 10 points. Savanah Abbott, the Crusaders’ leading scorer, had nine.
“It was cool to host a playoff game,” Watson said. “That was one thing our seniors had not experienced. It would have been interesting to see how many people we would have packed in here if there weren’t capacity restrictions.”