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Top-seeded Blackhawk overwhelms Kittanning

| Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, 11:21 p.m.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
Kittanning's Emily Knepshield is guarded by Blackhawk's Halle Denman during a WPIAL Class AAA playoff game Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, at North Allegheny. Blackhawk won 77-28.

Blackhawk looked every bit the No. 1 seed in its playoff opener.

The Cougars scored the first 12 points of the game and never looked back as they topped Kittanning, 77-28, in a WPIAL Class AAA first-round game Wednesday at North Allegheny.

Duquesne recruit Chassidy Omogrosso scored 15 points for Blackhawk (20-2), while Bridgette Shaffer added 14 and Courtney Vannoy had 12 for the Cougars. Blackhawk advances to face Mt. Pleasant in the quarterfinals Saturday.

Senior Emily Knepshield, the third 1,000-point scorer in Wildcats' history, ended her career with a team-high 10 points, and Emily Klingensmith scored nine for No. 16 Kittanning (15-8).

Blackhawk held a decisive edge on the inside, as the Cougars outrebounded Kittanning, 46-23, including an 18-4 edge in the first quarter.

“They're quick, strong, athletic and talented,” Kittanning coach Janelle Kotyk said. “They came with their A-game. All season, our defense has been holding up to the challenge, but tonight it didn't.”

The Cougars pulled out to their 12-0 lead in less than four minutes with the help of three inside baskets from Vannoy. Kittanning burned two timeouts to try to adjust before Knepshield put her team on the board with a drive and finish.

“We talked about starting strong. We wanted to get our energy going quick, and we knew we had an advantage going inside,” Blackhawk coach Steve Lodovico said. “We limited them to one shot, and they have a really good point guard, so we tried to limit her and make somebody else beat us.”

Kittanning began to protect the glass better in the second quarter, but another 10-0 run in the middle of third quarter put the game into a running clock for the final 10 minutes.

“In the playoffs, you'll take any win, no matter how it comes,” Lodovico said. “Kittanning was a good team that came from a nice conference, and they have a lot to look forward to with that team.”

Lodovico was alluding to the fact that while the final game for Knepshield and fellow senior Sydney Cloak, the Wildcats reached this point with a team of largely underclassmen. But after the game Kotyk was also sure to commend her two seniors.

“You can't say enough about Emily and Sydney. They've been great captains for us all year,” Kotyk said. “They've stuck it out for the last six years (in the program), and I couldn't be more proud of the effort they gave, all the way to the end.”

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