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Girls Basketball: 2017 PIAA Class 3A Championship Preview - Bishop Canevin vs. Neumann-Goretti

Written by Brad Everett on .

The game: PIAA Class 3A Championship
The teams: Bishop Canevin vs. Neumann-Goretti
Where and when: Giant Center, Hershey, Saturday, noon.

Bishop Canevin Crusaders
Record: 23-5
District finish: WPIAL champion
Coach: Tim Joyce
PIAA titles: 1 (2013)
Last time in the final: 2013
How they got here: (First round) Central Cambria, 51-30; (Second round) East Allegheny, 51-25; (Quarterfinals) Carlynton, 55-29; (Semifinals) West Shamokin, 43-39.
Scoring offense: 52.4 points per game
Scoring defense: 31.8 points per game
Probable starters: Zoe Woods, F, 5-7, Sr.; Brionna Allen, G, 5-7, Jr.; Lauren Gamble, G, 5-7, Jr.; Shamyjha Price, G, 5-9, So.; Sarah Green, G, 5-9, Sr.
What you should know: Defense. Defense. Defense. Bishop Canevin defends better than just about any team in the WPIAL. The Crusaders have gone 17 consecutive games without allowing an opponent to score more than 40 points and they give up just 31.8 points per game on the season. The Crusaders are more than capable offensively, too. There is no big scorer, but most games finish with three or four players finishing in double figures. Sophomore Gillan Gustine can provide a spark off the bench with her 3-point shooting. The Crusaders have lost only three games to WPIAL teams -- WPIAL 5A champion Chartiers Valley, PIAA 5A semifinalist South Fayette and WPIAL 2A finalist Vincentian. They have won nine straight since a 40-33 loss to South Fayette. The Crusaders last won a title in 2013 when they beat York Catholic, 45-38, to claim the 2A championship.
Player to watch: Brionna Allen. A starter since her freshman season, Allen is Canevin's best all-around player. She averages a team-high 13 points per game and is outstanding defensively. She held WPIAL scoring leader Amani Johnson of East Allegheny to a season-low eight points in a PIAA second-round win. Allen scored a game-high 15 points in the semifinal win against West Shamokin.

Neumann-Goretti Saints
Record: 23-5
District finish: District 12 champion
Coach: Andrea Peterson
PIAA titles: 2 (2015, 2016)
Last time in the final: 2016
How they got here: (First round) Middletown, 70-50; (Second round) New Hope-Solebury, 59-36; (Quarterfinals) Holy Redeemer, 71-49; (Semifinals) York Catholic, 63-42.
Probable starters: Tatiana Jones, F, 5-11, So.; Chyna Nixon, G, 5-10, Sr.; Minika Glenn, G, 5-9, Sr.; Kiara Koger, G, 5-6, So.; Jabria Ingram, G, 5-8, Jr.
What you should know: Having one player headed to a high-major Division I school is a nice luxury to have. Neumann-Goretti has two. Chyna Nixon is an Ole Miss recruit and Ashley Jones is headed to West Virginia. The two have helped Neumann-Goretti reach the final for the fourth consecutive season. The first two of those contests were against Seton-LaSalle from the WPIAL. Seton-LaSalle defeated Neumann-Goretti, 58-50, in the 2014 championship game, but the Saints, ranked No. 1 in the country at the time, returned the favor by throttling Seton-LaSalle, 79-34, in 2015. The Saints made it back-to-back titles last season when they beat North Star, 65-28. A three-peat has been looking like a strong possibility as the Saints have ripped through the PIAA playoffs by winning each of their games by at least 20 points.
Player to watch: Chyna Nixon. The 5-10 guard averages 16 points per game and was named
MVP of the Philadelphia Catholic League. ESPN HoopGurlz ranks Nixon the No. 72 overall player in the country.

Prediction: Neumann-Goretti 52, Bishop Canevin 43