No practice makes perfect, Mt.Lebanon rolls past Upper St. Clair
Every night in this section is a battle, Mt. Lebanon girls basketball coach Dori Oldaker insisted.
But not like this.
Despite having zero practices — and no scouting report — entering Monday's Section 4-AAAA road game at Upper St. Clair, top-ranked Mt. Lebanon found success inside on offense and defense and rolled to a 62-49 victory over the Panthers.
“Our schedule right now is pretty brutal this month,” senior forward Christine Ehland said. “We have a bunch of games in a row and not a lot of preparation. But under the circumstances, I think it was a great win.”
Because of last week's Polar vortex, Mt. Lebanon played Chartiers Valley on Wednesday, Baldwin Thursday and used Friday to prepare for Saturday's tournament game in Philadelphia against Central Bucks West.
No practice is allowed Sunday, pretty much leaving Mt. Lebanon with the 15-minute bus ride down Washington Road to get ready.
“We know the girls,” senior guard Margie McCaffrey said. “We play AAU with them. But it was hard because we didn't know their plays.”
McCaffrey scored a game-high 18 points, Ehland added 17 and 11 rebounds, as Mt. Lebanon (9-3, 5-0) slid into sole possession of first place in the section with Baldwin's upset win over Bethel Park.
Maura Wallace contributed 15 points for a Blue Devils team that held Upper St. Clair's Rachel Mazzie to nine points — about seven below her season average.
“They just wear you down,” said Upper St. Clair coach Ernie Koontz, shortly after pointing to Mt. Lebanon's shot chart, which showed a lot of pencil marks around the hoop.
“We were pretty happy with our bigs,” Oldaker said. “But, again, it's our guards distributing it to them.”
Mt. Lebanon jumped out to an 11-4 lead before the Panthers answered with an 8-0 run to pull ahead, 12-11, on a basket inside from Elayna Kaylor.
McCaffrey put Mt. Lebanon ahead after one, 13-12, with a floater as time expired.
McCaffrey scored five points in the second quarter, as the Blue Devils outscored Upper St. Clair by seven to take a 26-18 lead at the break.
Ehland took over in the third, scoring seven of her points to help Mt. Lebanon build a 44-31 advantage entering the fourth.
Upper St. Clair trimmed the deficit to 10 a couple times, but the Panthers (9-3, 4-2) never could make the final push.
Diandra Conwell scored 13 points for Upper St. Clair. Kaylor had 12 and Madison Serio 10. But none of that was enough to keep pace with what Ehland, McCaffrey and Wallace were able to do around the basket.
It also didn't hurt that Mt. Lebanon was 21 of 24 on free throws.
“With their length and their size, they disrupted our offense,” Koontz said. “Then with their length, you see the shot chart … enough said.”