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North Catholic girls outlast Blackhawk, 40-37, in WPIAL Class 4A overtime win

Three-Peat!
North Catholic’s girls basketball team celebrates after downing Blackhawk, 40-37, in overtime in the WPIAL Class 4A girls hoops title game at the University of Pittsburgh’s Petersen Events Center on Saturday afternoon. The win marked the program’s 23rd WPIAL girls basketball crown. Ed Thompson/Butler Eagle

PITTSBURGH — Three quarters had gone by in Saturday afternoon’s WPIAL Class 4A girls basketball championship contest and North Catholic trailed by five, having just allowed top-seeded Blackhawk to embark on its most successful run of the contest.

Against the Cougars’ vaunted defense, the Trojanettes’ solution came in the form of senior standout Alayna Rocco, who outscored the opposition the rest of the way in a 40-37 overtime win and sealed a district title three-peat for her team.

Nobody neared Rocco’s game-high 26 points, a total that was aided by freshman Brady Wehner’s deep-shooting threat and helped hand Blackhawk (22-3) its first defeat since before Christmas.

“They were all over Brady — that’s been happening the last couple games because of her outside shooting,” North Catholic coach Molly Rottmann said. “We realized they were hugging her, so Alayna was able to take advantage of that gap and did a great job with it.”

Rocco had nine points through three quarters, but directed the offense for much of the final 12 minutes, bucketing 17 of the Trojanettes’ final 19 points. The other two were by way of a heads-up second-chance layup by freshman Lauren Reitz as North Catholic (17-7) was trying to erase the deficit early in the fourth quarter.

“I just kind of did what I had to do, still looking for my teammates and trying to get everything going,” Rocco said. “I still thought we played together. It was just (that) I got some open looks and it was just part of the flow of our offense.”

Cougars coach Greg Huston admitted that his side wasn’t helping off of Wehner, which allowed Rocco opportunities.

“There’s a reason she’s going to play D-I ball,” Huston said. “We were trying to take away that right-hand drive and she just kept getting it over and over again. ... She made a bunch of tough shots in the fourth quarter.”

It was a frame that Blackhawk went into on a 6-0 surge, with a basket by Aubree Hupp and useful trips to the free throw line by Ava Davis and Alena Fusetti. Those all occurred as the Trojanettes went quiet for 4:54 to end the third.

From then on, the Cougars went 4-for-16 (25%) from the field. The teams were knotted at 34 at the end of regulation thanks to a pair of free throws that Fusetti knocked down with 1:15 to go. Rocco notched the first four points in overtime before Piper Romigh’s corner trey pulled Blackhawk within one with 1:02 left.

Rocco ended up sinking a pair of free throws on the other end. She also stuffed what could have been a game-tying three-pointer by Hupp as time ran down. Hupp collected the ball and heaved a desperation try that smacked off the bottom of the backboard as the horn sounded.

It was part of a defensive effort where North Catholic limited Blackhawk to an 11-for-46 (23.9%) shooting effort, including a 2-of-17 (11.8%) mark from beyond the arc. Andrea Kinger hit the first of those two made treys, pulling the Cougars even at 15 late in the initial half.

“I can’t speak about the defense enough,” Rottmann said. “Sarah did an amazing job on Fusetti, Alayna did an amazing job on Hupp. ... Everyone else’s role and understanding who to help off, who were the outside shooters — they were focused in.”

Wehner added seven points and a pair of boards in the win, while Reitz had four points and eight rebounds.

NORTH CATHOLIC 40

Alayna Rocco 9 7-8 26, Brady Wehner 3 0-0 7, Lauren Reitz 2 0-0 4, Anna Lazzara 1 1-2 3. Totals: 15 8-10 40.

BLACKHAWK 37

Alena Fusetti 3 5-5 11, Aubree Hupp 3 4-7 10, Andrea Kinger 1 2-2 5, Piper Romigh 2 0-0 5, Ava Davis 1 2-2 4, Haley Romigh 1 0-0 2. Totals: 11 13-16 37.

North Catholic 6 9 6 13 6 — 40

Blackhawk 2 13 11 8 3 — 37

3-point goals: North Catholic (Wehner, Rocco); Blackhawk 2 (Kinger, Romigh)

North Catholic's Brady Wehner takes the ball in and faces immediate pressure from a Blackhawk defender toadying the WPIAL AAA Championship at The Petersen Event Center at the University of Pittsburgh. Ed Thompson/Butler Eagle 03/2/2024
North Catholic's Lauren Reitz hits a jump shot today against Blackhawk in their WPIAL Championship win in class 4A at the Petersen Event Center at The University of Pittsburgh. Ed Thompson/Butler Eagle 3/2/2024
North Catholic's Lauren Mihm tries to hit a 3 late in regulation today in the WPIAL AAA Championship at the Petersen Event Center at The University of Pittsburgh. Ed Thompson/Butler Eagle 3/2/2024
North Catholic's Lauren Seitz fights for a lose ball today in their WPIAL 4A Championship win at The Petersen Event Center at The University of Pittsburgh. Ed Thompson/Butler Eagle 03/2/2024
North Catholic's Ava Waker; on crutches gets the WPIAL AAA trophy after they received it here at the Petersen Event Center at The University of Pittsburgh. Ed Thompson/Butler Eagle 03/2/2024
North Catholic's Lauren Mihm breaks up a play stopping a scoring attempt by Blackhawk today in their WPIAL Championships win at The Petersen Even Center at The University of Pittsburgh. Ed Thompson/Butler Eagle 03/2/2024
North Catholic's Alayna Rocco drives to the hoop late in the game and passes off to Mihm for a missed 3 to win here at the Petersen Event Center at The University of Pittsburgh. Ed Thompson/Butler Eagle 3/2/2024
North Catholic's Lauren Reitz gets her own rebound tonight in the WPIAL 4A championships game at The Petersen Event Center at the University of Pittsburgh. Ed Thompson/Butler Eagle 3/2/2024
North Catholic head coach Molly Rottman gets a medal from her father today after she won her 12th WPIAL title as a head coach with her win over Blackhawk in the WPIAL AAA girl's championships here at The University of Pittsburgh. Ed Thompson/Butler Eagle 3/2/2024

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