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Mt. Lebanon girls win another WPIAL title

The Mt. Lebanon girls basketball team found the title it left here last March.

In the process, Oakland Catholic's Bobbi Baker nearly gave the Blue Devils something else to keep track of next year.

One season after getting upset by Shaler, No. 2 seed Mt. Lebanon built a 16-point first-half lead, squandered it, then recovered down the stretch to upset top-seeded Oakland Catholic, 58-49, on Friday night at Palumbo Center.

Baker scored a game-high 25 points, but they weren't enough to keep the Blue Devils (23-3) from claiming their third WPIAL Class AAAA title in four years.

"Our coaches told us and we all thought there was unfinished business," said junior Jordan Holmes, who finished with six points, 10 rebounds and eight blocked shots. "We didn't want to leave here without a gold medal around our necks."

Baker nearly changed that. After a reporter answered her how many points Baker finished with, Blue Devils coach Dori Oldaker quipped, "It felt like 36."

"She's a tough kid," Oldaker added. "We had Liz (Tommasi) on her, and I'm proud of Liz. But I would have liked to have contained Bobbi a little bit more."

Sophomore Christine Ehland led Mt. Lebanon with 16 points. Senior Kelly Johnson had 12, and classmate Liz Tommasi added 10.

Next Friday, Mt. Lebanon will play Pine-Richland -- the fifth-place team from the WPIAL -- or the runner-up from District 6 in the first round of the PIAA tournament. Oakland Catholic will play the District 6 or District 9 champion the same night.

Mt. Lebanon jumped to a 20-6 advantage after the first quarter, getting eight points from Ehland. The Blue Devils stretched that to 26-11 on a pair of free throws from Emma Pellicano with 4 minutes, 55 seconds left before halftime, but Oakland Catholic scored eight of the next 12 points and trailed, 32-21, at halftime.

"They're a very experienced, WPIAL championship-winning team," Oakland Catholic coach Shannon Boyle said. "For our players, this was our first time here, and I think maybe they were a little bit nervous and overwhelmed by everything."

Mt. Lebanon's largest lead came after Ehland's putback 22 seconds into the second quarter, which gave it a 16-point edge. But the Eagles would not go away.

"At times we started panicking and turned the ball over," said Oldaker, whose team committed 18 turnovers, nine in each half. "I thought we needed to settle down, be stronger with the ball. They kept taking the ball off of us."

Oakland Catholic (24-2) chipped away in the second half by outscoring Mt. Lebanon, 16-9, in the third quarter and trailed by four entering the fourth. Oakland Catholic took its first lead at 47-45 with 5:09 left when Corey Taglianetti made a 3-pointer from the left corner, but Johnson's free throw at 2:50 gave the Blue Devils the lead for good.

"I'm not going to lie: It was kind of scary," Holmes said. "We just tried to calm down and play the game how we know how to play."

Additional Information:

Basketball royalty

Since 1999, Oakland Catholic and Mt. Lebanon have been two of the WPIAL's top Class AAAA girls basketball programs. The Eagles have won six titles, and Mt. Lebanon has three:

» 1999-2002: Oakland Catholic

» 2003: Upper St. Clair

» 2004: New Castle

» 2005-06: Oakland Catholic

» 2007: New Castle

» 2008: Upper St. Clair

» 2009-10: Mt. Lebanon

» 2011: Shaler

» 2012: Mt. Lebanon

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