North girls lose to Blackhawk in state semifinal
NEW CASTLE — “When you are part of a special team, it really hits you when the season ends. That’s why this hurts so much. This is a very special team.”
Those are words North Catholic girls basketball coach Molly Rottmann relayed to her team inside the locker room at New Castle High School on Tuesday, shortly after the Trojanettes finished on the short end of a 45-40 score against Blackhawk in a PIAA Class 4A semifinal.
Attempting to reach the state championship for the 14th time, North was held scoreless over the final three minutes, 45 seconds of the game. The team’s final points came on a trey from Alayna Rocco, cutting Blackhawk’s edge to 42-40.
That was the score when North senior Tori Drevna appeared to nail a trey with 45 seconds left, but the attempt rimmed out. Following two free throws from Blackhawk’s Aubree Hupp that put the Cougars up by four points, Sarah Loughry’s shot from the top of the key was just off the mark. Blackhawk rebounded with seven seconds left and reality began to set in for the Trojanettes (25-4).
A slow start to the quarter — turnovers on its first three possessions — held North back. Blackhawk’s Kassie Potts put her team up for good at 35-33 with a basket with 6:44 remaining.
“We definitely did not value the ball like we were hoping for, but credit to Blackhawk,” said Rottmann. “They played the gaps and anticipated our passes.”
Less than three weeks ago, the two teams met in the WPIAL championship game and the Trojanettes were dominant in a 51-35 victory.
“We watched the film from that game and knew we had to change things up,” said Cougars’ coach Steve Lodovico. “Trapping and pressing, it’s what we’ve done all season on defense, but we couldn’t continue to do that against these guys. It doesn’t work against them because they are too good at handling the ball. Instead, we packed it in and kept them out of the paint.”
At the other end of the court, Blackhawk (25-4) received a standout effort from senior point guard Kassie Potts. With 1,000-point scorer Alena Fusetti struggling to find space to get shots off, Potts responded with 19 points, eight more than her average for the season.
“She’s a warrior,” Lodovico said of Potts. “She’s 5-foot-3, but plays like she’s 7-feet tall.”
North trailed for much of the first half, but seemed to hit its stride on the offensive end early in the third quarter. Rocco scored her team’s first 10 points of the period, but North managed just a pair of treys in the final 5:15 of the quarter, one each from Rocco and Drevna. The latter make gave the Trojanettes what turned out to be their last lead at 33-31.
Rocco scored 17 to lead North and Drevna added 12 points. Hupp scored 17 for Blackhawk, which received points from just four players.
“We played very hard, but we just didn’t play our best tonight,” Rottmann said. “We lost patience.
“We won our section, won the WPIAL and were in the final four in the state. We fell a bit short of our final goal, but I’m so proud of this team.”
Kassie Potts 8 1-3 19, Alena Fusetti 3 0-1 7, Ava Davis 1 0-0 2, Aubree Hupp 5 6-8 17, Andrea Kinger 0 0-0 0, Haley Romigh 0 0-0 0, Piper Romigh 0 0-0 0. Totals: 17 7-12 45.
NORTH CATHOLIC 40
Alayna Rocco 7 0-0 17, Sarah Loughry 1 1-2 3, Anna Waskiewicz 1 0-0 2, Dacia Lewandowski 2 0-0 4, Ava Walker 1 0-0 2, Tori Drevna 4 1-2 12, Kaitlyn Tavella 0 0-0 0. Totals: 16 2-4 40.
Blackhawk 12 9 12 12 — 45
North Catholic 9 11 13 7 — 40
3-point goals: Blackhawk 4 (Potts 2, Fusetti, Hupp); North Catholic 6 (Rocco 3, Drevna 3).