South Hills women’s basketball teams are on a roll in the first half of the season | Sports

If the first half of the season is any indication, then the South Hills area women’s college basketball teams are in for a treat for the remainder of the 2022 campaign.

On January 17, Upper St. Clair, Mt. Lebanon, South Fayette and Chartiers Valley put on stellar performances, making their February 10 rematches much-anticipated affairs before the playoffs begin.

Mt. Lebanon remained undefeated in Class 6A after beating rival Upper St. Clair, 44-37.

“These types of quality teams and quality players are perfect for women’s basketball,” Lebo head coach Dori Oldaker said. “It was a great girls game.”

So did CV’s 55-51 win at South Fayette. The Lions overcame an 18-point deficit to scare the Colts.

The Colts are three-time WPIAL champions and two-time state finalists. All five starters are college-bound: Aislin Malcolm (Pitt), Perri Page (Columbia), Mariann Turnbull (Northeastern) and twins Helene and Hallie Cowan (Seton Hill).

Upper St. Clair was a 2021 WPIAL finalist. Their starting roster includes a senior in Molly James. The only other senior registered is Ileana Berkoski.

Lebo introduces St. Louis rookie Ashleigh Connor. The Blue Devils have been WPIAL semi-finalists for consecutive seasons.

Considered by many to be the best player in the WPIAL, Connor led Lebo’s offense against USC. She shot in 15 points while Reagan Murdoch provided 12 points.

Connor didn’t get off the ground, scoring nine of his points, until Lebo opened the contest with three straight 3-pointers to start the second half.

Long-range shots from Anna Streiff, Brooke Collins and Murdoch took Lebo to a 27-19 lead two minutes into the third quarter. Streiff and Payton Collins buried 3 points late in the second quarter, putting the Blue Devils up 19-18 at intermission.

“Huge,” Oldaker said of the 3-pointer. “We had some great looks in the first half, but they just didn’t go down. We just told the girls to be patient and eventually our shots will land.

“Ash wasn’t hitting either but she didn’t panic and trusted her teammates,” Oldaker added. “She wanted the ball and wanted to take over and in the end her patience paid off.”

USC opened up a 7-1, 15-8 lead but Lebo’s defense took over. The Blue Devils held USC to four points in the second quarter.

Mia Brown led the Panthers with 10 points. James and Paige Dellicarri finished with six points each and Sam Prunzik and Rylee Kalocay followed with five points each.

“It was a hard fought game for both teams,” USC head coach Pete Serio said. “It came down to a four-minute streak at the end of the second quarter and the start of the third. Mount Lebanon fired and we didn’t. Now is the time to get back to the gym and work on ways to improve.

With Lebo (6-0, 13-0) atop the Section 2 standings, there is room for improvement. The Blue Devils are also working on “cleaning up some details” in their game against the Panthers, Oldaker said.

“Yes, winning gives us confidence, but it doesn’t define us,” she said. “It’s a grind that we’re trying to embrace and improve on.

“Our staff love coaching this group of girls,” she added. “They trust us and we trust them. They are so coachable and will want to do all the little things we ask.

CV head coach Tim McConnell said he hopes his Colts play a little more consistently, especially when they have the advantage. CV led SF, 40-22, at halftime. The Lions outscored the Colts, 19-6, in the third quarter to get back into the game.

“I told the girls (this was) probably the worst quarterback I’ve ever seen play Chartiers Valley women’s basketball,” McConnell said. “So we need to band together and figure out what’s going on and make sure we can fix it.”

Balance is a strength the Colts don’t need to fix. Four players scored in double figures against South Fayette with the Cowan twins, Hallie and Helene, leading with 13 points apiece. Malcolm and Page followed with 12 and 11 points respectively.

Maddie Webber led the way for the Lions with 20 points. Erica Hall had 12 points and Ava Leroux provided 11.

In other girls, Bethel Park beat Baldwin, 51-42. Emma Dziezgowski shot 17 points to lead the Black Hawks.

Peters Township also beat Canon-McMillan, 70-28.

Journey Thompson and Natalie Wetzel each provided 23 points for the Indians while Avana Sayles scored 12 points and Gemma Walker followed with 10.