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North girls hoops continuing winning ways

High Standards
North Catholic's Sarah Loughry (2) prepares to take a shot during Thursday’s girls basketball game against Seneca Valley. The Trojanettes defeated the Raiders, 49-17. Shane Potter/Butler Eagle

CRANBERRY TWP — Banners representing North Catholic’s longstanding success in girls basketball hang from the walls in the school’s gymnasium.

Twenty WPIAL championships and eight state titles is a lot of tradition to live up to. Yet every season, the Trojanettes are in the mix to add to it.

Fans see the players excel on the court during games, but the execution and intensity that are hallmarks of the program are ignited when few are watching.

“Our practices are very intense and that helps create strong bonds between the players,” said North coach Molly Rottmann. “It’s a very tight-knit group.

“We’re giving them the next three days off. That hasn’t happened here in 25 years, but we have some girls coming back from injury, trying to get healthy.”

North’s latest victory, a 49-17 non-section win over Seneca Valley Thursday night, improved the team’s record to 6-2.

Rottmann now oversees the rugged practices, but at one time, she was one of the players being pushed. She played for legendary North coach Don Barth before graduating in 1989.

“He was ultra-intense,” she said. “He was a policeman in Pittsburgh and had no children. His players and his German Shepherds were his kids.

“He was a no-nonsense type of guy, but one of the greatest human beings. I feel like I’ll never be able to live up to what he did as a coach.”

Rottmann has helped the Trojanettes add to their hardware over the years. North won three WPIAL titles and a state title during her time as a player. As a coach, she’s won 10 district crowns and a state championship.

This year’s team has a number of key contributors coming off the bench, including junior Ava Walker, who missed all of last season with injury. That depth will come in handy if Dacia Lewandowski is out for an extended period. The senior guard rolled her ankle early in Thursday’s contest and did not return.

Alayna Rocco, who scored 15 points in the defeat of SV, leads the team in scoring, but Rottmann is most impressed with the team-first attitude all of her players take the court with.

“In our win over Freeport (last Monday), we made 26 shots and had 24 assists,” she said. “When you get that kind of sharing the ball with the talent we have, it’s awesome.”

SV (2-5) is still figuring things out after graduating Olivia West and point guard Jess Bickart last spring. West became just the second player in program history to reach 1,000 career points.

“It’s hard to replace two players like that,” said Raiders’ coach Dorothea Epps. “I feel like we’re getting there, but we just don’t know what to expect from the girls from game to game. That’s the mark of a young and inexperienced team.”

SENECA VALLEY 17

Brionna Brown 0 3-4 3, Natalie Hambly 1 0-0 3, Gracie Cato 1 0-0 3, Emerson Peffer 2 4-6 8, Allison Sevin 0 0-0 0, Anna Felitsky 0 0-0 0, Lilly Hudac 0 0-0 0, Lauren Folino 0 0-0 0. Totals: 4 7-10 17.

NORTH CATHOLIC 49

Sarah Loughry 3 0-0 8, Anna Waskiewicz 3 2-4 8, Alayna Rocco 6 0-0 15, Dacia Lewandowski 1 2-2 4, Kaitlyn Tavella 2 0-0 4, Ava Walker 0 4-4 4, Tori Drevna 3 0-0 6, Emma Shoemaker 0 0-0 0, Annabelle Pawlowicz 0 0-0 0. Totals: 18 8-10 49.

Seneca Valley 3 6 5 3 — 17

North Catholic 20 4 15 10 — 49

3-point goals: Seneca Valley 2 (Hambly, Cato); North Catholic 5 (Rocco 3, Loughry 2).

Thursday: North Catholic at Norwin; Seneca Valley at Shady Side Academy Tournament

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