Blackhawk runs away from Lady Leps
The Belle Vernon Area basketball team will now be pulling for Blackhawk, the team that defeated the Lady Leps, 71-46, in Saturday's Class AAA quarterfinal.
If Blackhawk wins Wednesday, the Lady Leps automatically qualifies for the PIAA tournament for just the second time in school history – and the first in 15 years.
In the WPIAL's “piggyback” system, BVA would be the sixth and final team to advance. Blackhawk (24-0) faces Elizabeth Forward (22-2) 8 p.m. Wednesday at West Allegheny. Meanwhile, all the Lady Leps can do is sit back, wait, and hope.
“I think it's just been really an outstanding season for our girls, we had a great playoff win over Greensburg Salem and we hit a tremendous team in Blackhawk,” BVA coach Lisa Fairman said.
“I think we have a great shot for Blackhawk going the whole way, to be honest, and the girls are excited for the opportunity because the girls in quite a while.”
On Saturday at West Allegheny, the Lady Cougars ended the first half on a 22-6 run and did not look back. Chassidy Omogrosso poured in a game-high 24 points while Courtney Vannoy added 10 points, 16 rebounds and six steals.
For Belle Vernon Area, sisters Jessica Slagus (14 points, 14 rebounds) and Kaitlin Slagus (13 points, 11 rebounds) both notched double-doubles. But, for the Lady Leps' defense, it was a case of pick-your-poison.
“If you shut down one avenue of their game, and we did hold them to just three 3- pointers, you give up another and we gave up a lot of dribble drives down the middle,” Fairman said. “They don't have a weakness you can really exploit and they put a lot of pressure man to man and it kept the ball out of the Slagus sisters' hands more than I'd have liked.”
“It was definitely quiet in the locker room and there were a little bit of tears, but it wasn't too bad because they know there still is a tomorrow.”
According to assistant coach Tom Rodriguez, the Lady Leps qualified in 1998 at the expense of Blackhawk. BVA had lost in the quarterfinals to a South Park team that went on to upset an undefeated Blackhawk squad in the semifinals before capturing the WPIAL title by beating Pine-Richland.
In a strange twist, if Blackhawk wins Wednesday but loses in Saturday's title game, it would set up a rematch with BVA in the PIAA first round.
“This is where you want to be. You want to be going up against the best, and that's how I look at it as a competitor and as a coach,” Fairman said.
Elizabeth Forward 66, Central Valley 45
The fifth-seeded Lady Warriors (22-2) continued their quiet run through the playoffs with a convincing victory over No. 4 seed Central Valley on Saturday at West Allegheny.
For EF, Kylie Owoc came off the bench to score a team-high 16 points while Dana Buck added 14 as the Lady Warriors built a 38-19 halftime lead.
The EF defense limited senior guard Madi Rowan to seven points.
Rick Bruni Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-684-2635.