South Park girls rally to beat Blackhawk, advance to title game
South Park girls basketball coach Reggie Wells is going home.
The veteran coach, a graduate of Milton Hershey High School, will have his Eagles just a couple miles from his alma mater Saturday night after South Park staged a memorable rally to defeat Blackhawk, 63-59, in a PIAA Class AAA semifinal Tuesday night.
The semifinal win at Chartiers Valley put the Eagles (27-2) in the PIAA finals for the first time in school history. South Park will play Bethlehem Catholic on Saturday at 6 p.m. at Giant Center in Hershey.
Blackhawk (27-2), the only WPIAL school to go undefeated during the regular season, concluded with a 27-2 mark.
For a while, it looked as if the only place Wells and the Eagles would be going is back to the high school to turn in their equipment.
Blackhawk had a 38-24 advantage with four minutes left in the second quarter thanks to six 3-pointers. But South Park blanked the Cougars for the next eight minutes and 23 seconds, reeling off a 16-0 run.
“It's a point where they were torturing us; they had us figured out,” Wells said with a laugh. “We made a little adjustment, and the girls got after it a lot better.”
“We knew we had to keep grinding away and our defense wasn't how we wanted to execute, so we just turned it up,” said senior guard Shelby Lindsay.
Junior Lindsey Noss, held scoreless in the first half, scored eight consecutive points for South Park at one point during the third quarter, including a 3-pointer with 2:02 left in that quarter to give the Eagles the lead for good, 46-43.
“She really stepped it up,” Wells said of Noss. “We were sticking by her. We knew she had the talent and the ability. She re-dedicated herself right before the season, and it paid off.”
South Park didn't commit a turnover in the third quarter.
Blackhawk stayed within striking distance the rest of the way, trailing 48-47 as the fourth quarter began.
Chassidy Omogrosso hit a pair of 3-pointers in the fourth period, and fellow sophomore Bridgette Shaffer had one.
“Give credit to South Park. They played really hard,” said Cougars coach Steve Lodovico. “They went on a big run during the third quarter and did all the right things.”
Blackhawk cut the lead to 57-54 with 3:16 to go on two foul shots by sophomore Courtney Vannoy, but Halie Torris registered a basket and two free throws to ice the game for the Eagles.
Lindsay finished with 20 points, seven assists and four steals, while Torris had 19 points and nine rebounds.
Breanna Raymond had 11 rebounds for South Park.
Omogrosso had 18 points to lead Blackhawk, while Alexis Graham added 17.
“I'll have to call the administrators at Milton Hershey (Wednesday) to see if we can set up a practice there,” Wells said. “I can't call now; Milton Hershey puts everybody to bed by 9 o'clock.”
Bethlehem Catholic won its semifinal, 44-39, over Villa Maria Academy.
George Guido is a freelance writer.