Noss leads South Park girls back to title game
The South Park girls basketball team is headed back to Palumbo Center.
In a rematch of the 2013 WPIAL Class AAA championship game, Lindsay Noss scored 14 points, including eight consecutive during a crucial third-quarter run, to lift South Park to a 44-40 victory over Elizabeth Forward in the semifinals Wednesday night at Chartiers Valley.
Third-seeded South Park (21-4), which also got 10 points from Halie Torris, extended its winning streak over Elizabeth Forward (20-4) to 12 games dating to the 2008-09 season, when the Eagles made the jump from Class AA.
The Eagles defeated the Warriors, 50-32, in last season's title matchup at Palumbo Center then followed it this year with a 65-48 victory during the regular season.
“We played with more intensity tonight. We had to,” South Park coach Reggie Wells Sr. said. “We had wide-open looks, but the shots weren't falling. But we didn't get frustrated. We just stayed with what we do.”
South Park, which went on to win the 2013 PIAA championship, will meet top-seeded Blackahawk (22-2) on Saturday for the WPIAL championship.
“We congratulate South Park. They're a well-coached team with players who know how to win in situations like this,” Elizabeth Forward coach Sam Kosanovich said. “No one likes to finish second, but we accept that, and we'll move on.”
Elizabeth Forward will await word on its opponent in the PIAA playoffs, which begin next week.
Alison Pastore paced Elizabeth Forward with 13 points, and Olivia Barkley added 10.
South Park, the Section 5 champion, overcame a scoreless first half by leading scorer Allison McGrath to take a 21-18 halftime lead on Noss' long 3-pointer that beat the buzzer.
The Eagles extended the margin to 33-23 after three quarters before holding off a late Elizabeth Forward rally. McGrath, a 5-foot-10 sophomore, did not score until making six consecutive free throws in the fourth.
“She did a lot of other things that she always does: rebound, good passing,” Wells said. “She was phenomenal again.”
But it was Noss, South Park's left-handed point guard, who gave the Eagles a boost.
After her go-ahead buzzer-beating shot just before halftime, the 5-6 senior shredded the Elizabeth Forward defense with a variety of shots in the third quarter as South Park outscored the Warriors, 12-5.
“You just have to pick your poison with that team,” Kosanovich said. “We chose to key on several other players, and she burned us.”
Kosanovich was happy with the effort he got from his players, a marked difference from the previous meeting. But he's 0-6 against Wells' team since taking over as coach at Elizabeth Forward, which won the Section 4 title.
Elizabeth Forward jumped to an early lead but fell behind 16-9 after South Park went on an 8-0 run early in the second quarter.
But the Warriors fought back and went on a 9-0 run of their own to take an 18-16 lead.
After South Park tied it late in the quarter, Noss put the Eagles ahead for good with her 3-pointer from well outside the top of the circle.
Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.