Defending champ Mt. Lebo into title game
Madison Cable and Mt. Lebanon made sure Tuesday night wasn't a repeat of history.
Behind Cable's 21 points and a 12-0 run to start the second half, No. 1 Mt. Lebanon pulled away from No. 12 Peters Township for a 61-34 victory in a Class AAAA semifinal at Chartiers Valley.
The reigning WPIAL champion Blue Devils (21-2), ranked No. 10 in the nation by USA Today, will defend their title in Saturday's championship game against No. 3 seed Baldwin, which defeated Bethel Park in last night's other semifinal.
Mt. Lebanon hasn't lost to a WPIAL opponent since Feb. 19, 2008, when the current Mt. Lebanon seniors were sophomores. That year, No. 11-seeded Peters Township upset the No. 2-seeded Blue Devils in the WPIAL semifinals.
"It was brought up before the game," Blue Devils coach Dori Oldaker said. "We didn't key on it too much. It was one of (assistant coach Carl) Satira's motivations, because he coached that game against Peters (Oldaker was on maternity leave). He said he's thought about that game at least every day since then. He wanted to get that one back."
The Blue Devils did, even though Peters Township (13-12) toppled No. 5 Oakland Catholic and No. 4 Shaler in the first two rounds of the playoffs. The Indians, who have qualified for the PIAA tournament, hung with Mt. Lebanon for the first half, trailing only 26-21 at halftime.
Mt. Lebanon went on a 12-0 run to begin the third quarter and eventually outscored Peters Township, 35-13, in the second half.
"We were kind of disappointed with way we were playing," Oldaker said. "They were out-hustling us, they were out-playing us, and mentally we didn't seem to be here at all."
Lauren Arbogast added 15 points for the Blue Devils and Chelsea Apke 12.
Ellie Hanlon led Peters Township with 12 points.
For the first quarter, at least, there wasn't much difference between the nation's No. 10 and the district's No. 12.
Peters Township scored first on Hanlon's 3-pointer and kept the lead for a little more than a minute. Though the Blue Devils went on a 10-0 run through the first, they turned the ball over five times, allowing Merissa Morgan to tie the score at 12 with a 3-pointer at the end of the first.
By halftime, though, Cable had 10 points, and Mt. Lebanon began to steady itself on offense, leading 26-21 at halftime.
Then, to start the second half, Mt. Lebanon's defense took control.
"In the second half, we came out just more on fire, with more energy, just our up-tempo defensive style," Oldaker said.