EF girls' win ended BVA's season
When Elizabeth Forward upset top-seeded and previously undefeated Blackhawk, 78-64, in the semifinals of the WPIAL Class AAA girls' basketball playoffs, the Lady Cougars weren't the only team to be stunned that night.
So was Belle Vernon Area.
By virtue of EF's upset, the Lady Leps' season officially came to an end.
Because BVA (16-7) was a 71-46 loser to Blackhawk in the WPIAL quarterfinals, the Lady Leps would have picked up only the second PIAA playoff berth in the school's history (the other was in 1998) if Blackhawk would have beaten fifth-seeded EF.
Six WPIAL teams qualify for the state playoffs, with all four semifinalists joined by the two teams to lose to the finalists in quarterfinals.
As a result of EF's upset win, BVA is out and Central Valley, which fell to EF 66-45 in the quarters, is in.
EF's victory was a bitter pill for BVA to swallow as the Lady Leps were looking forward to extending their season, along with the career of seniors Jessica Slagus, Natalie Bashada and Jillian Niro.
“I was at the game with four of my players and it was tough to watch,” BVA coach Lisa Fairman said. “We are kind of surprised and I'm sure a lot of people are. Not to take anything away from Elizabeth Forward, because they played a great game. But with Blackhawk's record and top seed, we just kind of expected they would win.
“We had plans to scrimmage before the state playoffs. But I sent a text to the EF coach congratulating them on a great win.”
Fairman said although her team is disappointed, it doesn't take away from the season the Lady Leps had.
“This doesn't define what we did as a team,” she said. “We did a lot of good things and we improved from last year to this year. I told the girls I'm still proud of this team. I know a lot of them are feeling bad because we won't be in the states, but that's why you play the games. You never know what is going to happen.”
Final 1,000-point tallies
Slagus ended her career at BVA with 1,133 points and ranks third on the girls' all-time scoring list at the school. She also grabbed 864 rebounds to rank third on that list.
Other local players who eclipsed 1,000 points and wrapped up their careers were Monessen's Mariah Ward and California's Courtnee McMasters on the girls' side and California's Tanner Huffman and Brian Fisher on the boys' side.
Ward ended up with 1,476 points and is sixth on Monessen's all-time girls scoring list.
Huffman closed his career with 1,351 points and Fisher has 1,233, putting them second and third on the school's all-time boys list.
McMasters finished with 1,002 points and is the second Lady Trojan to hit 1,000 points.
It's tough to be public and small
How tough a trend is Clairton trying to buck when it goes into Friday's WPIAL Class A title tilt against Vincentian?
Since 2001, the only public schools to win WPIAL gold in Class A are Monessen twice, Union, Duquesne, Clairton and Leechburg.
On the girls' side, the problems for public schools is even tougher.
Since 1996, in Class A only Monessen and Clairton (twice each) have won while Catholic/private schools have won the other 14 years, including this season (Serra plays Vincentian in the title game).
In AA girls', dating back to 1992, the only public schools to win WPIAL titles are East Allegheny, Carlynton, Avonworth, Hampton, Sto-Rox and Jeannette. That gives the private schools a commanding 16-6 edge including this year as Bishop Canevin and Seton-La Salle meet for the AA crown.
Local flavor in the finals
In the Class AAAA boys' championship game, Hampton will attempt to hand top-seeded New Castle (25-0) its first loss.
Hampton (21-4) is coached by Joe Lafko, a former multi-sport star at Frazier. Lafko's son, Joe, is a sophomore starting guard for the Talbots.
Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or firstname.lastname@example.org.