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Mt. Lebanon defeats Baldwin

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
| Friday, Feb. 2, 2001

Sometimes, it pays to be spontaneous.

Mt. Lebanon guard Joanie Plake grabbed a loose ball and threw it toward the basket from behind the 3-point line as the buzzer sounded to end the third quarter of Thursday's game between Mt. Lebanon and Baldwin. The ball swished through the net and gave Mt. Lebanon momentum it would keep for the rest of the game.

Mt. Lebanon went on to defeat Baldwin, 50-40, in a WPIAL Class AAAA Section 5 matchup at Mt. Lebanon High School. Mt. Lebanon's record goes to 19-1, 10-0 in the section. Baldwin dropped to 15-6, 6-4.

'I threw it up because I was just hoping to get the shot off,' said Plake, who scored six points. 'When I let it go, I felt like it could go in. I think it fired everyone up.'

That shot made the score, 39-28, and shifted the momentum in Mt. Lebanon's favor. Baldwin coach Dexter Hairston was not happy with the call by the official and argued that Plake did not release the ball in time. Even if she had, Hairston thought it should not have counted.

'All I know is she took three steps before she released the ball,' Hairston said.

Mt. Lebanon coach Pete Serio thought otherwise.

'It went in, and the ref said it was good,' Serio said.

That lead also allowed Mt. Lebanon to run a slow down offense for most of the fourth quarter. Three Blue Devils guards set up near midcourt and ran a continuous weave to wind down the clock and keep the ball out of the hands of Baldwin's players.

Mt. Lebanon was not able to freeze the ball in the first half, because Baldwin wouldn't allow Mt. Lebanon to build a large enough lead. After Mt. Lebanon jumped to a 7-1 lead, Baldwin chipped away and only was down 10-9 at the end of the first quarter. In the second quarter, Baldwin took its first lead, 17-15, with 4:34 to go on a shot by Meghan Buck, who finished with 10 points. Katie Barker led all scorers with 18 points for Baldwin.

Baldwin led 21-19 at the half.

But the Fighting Highlanders struggled to open the third quarter and did not score their first basket until the 3:31 mark of the period. During that time, Mt. Lebanon scored 15, including two 3-point baskets. But it was Plake's 3-point shot which sealed the victory for Mt. Lebanon. Baldwin made a run in the fourth quarter, but the closest the Fighting Highlanders would come was 47-39.

Point guard Shannon Bodamer was the high scorer for Mt. Lebanon with 13, but it was Bodamer's defense and ball-handling ability which Serio was most impressed with, especially in the second half. Katie Kestler had 12 and Lauren Hediger added 11 for Mt. Lebanon.

'Shannon played a great game, especially in the second half,' Serio said. 'As a team we played with a lot more emotion in the second half. We were flat in the first half and didn't play good defense. Once we did and got a lead, then I knew we could slow the ball down. And that gives the other team less time to score.'

That is one of the reasons he likes to use the slow-down offense, because he has guards who can handle the ball.

'We had two turnovers to start the second half and after that we played tentative,' Hairston said. 'Then they hit those 3s and started to hold the ball. If we could have kept it a two- or four-point game then they wouldn't have been able to hold the ball and we wouldn't have had to play chase.'

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