Next up for BVA girls: No. 1 Blackhawk

| Friday, Feb. 22, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

How daunting is Belle Vernon Area's next challenge in the WPIAL Class AAA girls basketball playoffs?

The Lady Leps (16-6) will be facing the top seed in Blackhawk Saturday as part of a girls' AAA tripleheader at West Allegheny (tip-off 1:30 p.m.).

The Lady Cougars (23-0) are the lone unbeaten girls team in the WPIAL and are enjoying the first undefeated season in the school's illustrious history.

Blackhawk averages 70.3 points per game, second highest in the WPIAL for girls' teams, and only gives up an average of 40.8 ppg.

Blackhawk has four starters averaging in double figures, including leading scorer Chassidy Omogrosso (22 ppg), a sophomore who has already verbally committed to Pitt.

“She's definitely a player,” Blackhawk coach Steve Lodovico said of Omogrosso. “She scored 31 points (in Blackhawk's 82-61 win over West Mifflin Wednesday). “She can shoot and she's a great point-guard.”

But Omogrosso (5-7) isn't alone in Blackhawk's arsenal. She is joined by 5-11 senior Alexis Graham (12.7 ppg), 5-9 sophomore Bridgette Shaffer (12.1 ppg), 5-8 junior Halle Denman (11.1 ppg) and 6-1 sophomore Courtney Vannoy (9.5 ppg, 8 rebs).

“The key to our success is that we have five players who can shoot and score,” Lodovico said. “(Against West Mifflin) we shot 13-for-22 on 3-pointers. Pretty much all of them average in double figures. All five started a year ago.”

Last season was a good one for Blackhawk. Coming off a 2011 campaign in which the Lady Cougars won the WPIAL title, they went 24-5 last season, losing to South Park in the WPIAL semifinals, 66-59, and reaching the PIAA quarterfinals before bowing to Chartiers Valley, 35-34.

While Blackhawk gave up 61 points against West Mifflin, Lodovico is quick to point out his team usually plays a much better defensive game.

“We weren't at our best defensively (against West Mifflin),” he said. “But usually we play pretty good defense. We have to do better against Belle Vernon, for sure.”

Lodovico is well aware of the twin towers BVA brings in the Slagus sisters, 6-1 Jessica (19.8 ppg, 14.3 rebs) and 6-2 Kaitlyn (10.7 ppg, 8.4 rebs).

“They have those two big sisters and we have to prepare for them and try to contain them as much as we can,” he said. “We have a 5-11 player and a 6-1 player, so we can match up size-wise a little bit with them.

“I think the key for us is going to play our game and continue to do what we do by pushing the tempo and run. We also have to pressure their guards.”

One weakness for Blackhawk is depth Lodovico mentioned just one reserve, 5-10 freshman Mariah Evans and said, “We try to go with our starting five as long as we can. We aren't very deep because we are so young.”

The BVA-Blackhawk game is the middle of three AAA girls' games Second-seeded Hopewell (20-3) plays Ambridge (15-8) at noon and fifth-seeded Elizabeth Forward (21-2) takes on fourth-seed Central Valley (18-4) at 3 p.m.

Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or

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