Blackhawk fights past sloppy 1st half to beat Mercyhurst

| Saturday, March 8, 2014, 8:48 p.m.

For the first two quarters of the Blackhawk girls' PIAA Class AAA first-round game against Mercyhurst Prep, the Cougars didn't look like a playoff-caliber team.

By the end of the game, however, they resembled the squad that won the WPIAL championship the week before.

The Cougars overcame a disastrous second quarter and held off the Lakers for a 51-34 win at Moon.

Blackhawk (24-2) will face Villa Maria Academy (22-3) in the second round Wednesday at a site and time to be determined.

By halftime, the Cougars looked like a team that could have been sent home early. They were unable to convert a field goal in the second quarter, going 0 for 6, and mustered just four points. The score was tied 18-18 at halftime.

“It was our worst offensive performance we played for four quarters, I think all year, especially in that first half,” Blackhawk coach Steve Lodovico said. “We played bad in that first half offensively and defensively. We just couldn't get it going.”

The script was flipped in the third quarter as Blackhawk opened with an 8-0 run and held the Lakers, the third-place team from District 10, to three points.

“We really wanted to win, and we made it happen,” senior guard Halle Denman said. “I don't know how we stayed in the game, but we did.”

Things got interesting in the fourth when Mercyhurst's Emily Shopene hit a 3-pointer to bring the score to 34-30. However, the Cougars responded with a 10-0 run in the next 2:33 to pull away.

“We had opportunities,” Mercyhurst Prep coach Dan Perfetto said. “To their credit they made a couple shots and had some kids step up for them.”

Lodovico was pleased with the way his girls responded when faced with adversity.

“They wanted to win bad,” he said.

Chassidy Omogrosso led Blackhawk with a game-high 16 points, while Denman added 15 and Courtney Vannoy 12. Erika Woll and Emily Stoicovy tallied nine points each to lead Mercyhurst.

Saturday marked the second time Blackhawk defeated the Lakers this season. The Cougars picked up a 63-40 win Dec. 21. But Mercyhurst learned from that loss — nearly enough to pull off the upset.

“It seemed like every play we ran, they knew what we were running,” Lodovico said.

He added his team can't afford to have another slow start in order to advance toward a state championship.

“I told the girls as you go on, the teams get better and better,” Lodovico said. “If you have a bad half or a bad quarter, you go home. So we have got to make sure we play well the whole game.”

Ed Phillipps is a freelance writer.

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