North Catholic leaves Lady Sailors shipwrecked
SLIPPERY ROCK — Almost from the jump, North Catholic didn’t leave a doubt.
The Trojanettes pushed Lakeview around at Slippery Rock University’s Morrow Field House Friday night, moving on to the PIAA Class 3A girls basketball quarterfinals by way of a 56-25 win.
The Trojanettes (21-5) will face Forest Hills at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Norwin High School in the quarterfinal round.
North Catholic appears to be peaking at the best time possible.
“I think we’re playing with confidence,” Trojanettes coach Molly Rottmann said. “I think we have a variety of people that are scoring and doing good things.”
Rottmann believes late-season clashes with Class 6A groups Seneca Valley and Bethel Park vaulted her team to its current success. The Trojanettes (21-5) have won 12 of their last 13 by an average of 20.7 points.
Against the Lady Sailors (22-5), they raced out to an 18-3 lead by the end of the initial quarter, with four different girls notching buckets. Ultimately, the Trojanettes poured in over 50 points for the 21st time this season.
Eleven first-half offensive rebounds and only one turnover in that same span certainly helped.
“They really focused in on what they needed to do,” Rottmann said. “They did a nice job on the boards ... When you’re rebounding and able to run, that’s what we do best.”
On defense, North Catholic keyed in specifically on the Lady Sailors’ Reese Gadsby. Averaging just about 20 points per outing, Gadsby couldn’t get on the board in what was a frustrating first frame.
Lakeview made only one of its first 10 shots in the first eight minutes and wound up going 4-for-21 (19%) for the half.
“You can’t do that against a team of (that) caliber,” Lady Sailors coach Gary Burke said. “That’s the only thing I was worried about was us coming out cold. Unfortunately for us, we didn’t shoot the ball well in that first half and they (North Catholic) made a lot of shots from the outside.”
Trojanette junior Dacia Lewandowski continued her team’s onslaught by recording more points in the second period (11) than Lakeview did in the half (9). North Catholic had a commanding 26-point edge at the intermission. Its advantage rose to as much as 30 by the start of the fourth.
“What got us in trouble was that we were over-helping,” Burke said. “We were running at people that weren’t a threat to penetrate the ball. When we did that, we left ourselves vulnerable to a kick-out three. When we did that, they hit them.
“Our effort was there. Our positioning wasn’t so great tonight, though.”
Sophomore Alayna Rocco paced all scorers with 23 points. Lewandowski followed behind, netting 19.
“We just have really good chemistry,” Rocco said of her on-floor relationship with Lewandowski, who’s also her AAU teammate. “We know when (the) other is going to the hoop and when to crash for each other and when to give each other the ball. We just know when to give it up and when to take it for ourselves.”
In an ironic twist, North Catholic and Forest Hills (21-7) were supposed to tangle in the same round in 2020 before the pandemic abruptly halted the tournament.
Reese Gadsby 5 1-2 11, Amber Sefton 1 2-2 4, Kelsey Seddon 1 2-2 4, Alaina Peltonen 1 0-0 3, Kyndra Seddon 1 0-0 2, Jordan Olson 0 1-2 1. Totals: 9 6-8 25.
NORTH CATHOLIC 56
Alayna Rocco 10 1-2 23, Dacia Lewandowski 9 0-0 19, Anna Waskiewicz 2 2-2 6, Tori Drevna 2 0-0 6, Anastasia Peterson 1 0-1 2. Totals: 24 3-5 56.
Lakeview 3 6 9 7 — 25
North Catholic 18 17 13 8 — 56
3-point goals: Lakeview 1 (Peltonen); North Catholic 5 (Drevna 2, Rocco 2, Lewandowski)
Tuesday: PIAA 3A Quarterfinals-North Catholic vs. Forest Hills, 6 p.m., at Norwin