Kestler, Cable trying to lead Mt. Lebanon to third title in a row


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The PIAA history book is open.

Pages are blank, possibly the spot for the Mt. Lebanon girls basketball team.

Madison Cable and Anna Kestler could be co-authors of this chapter.

Mt. Lebanon plays in the PIAA Class AAAA championship game tonight at Penn State against Archbishop Carroll of Philadelphia. With a win, Mt. Lebanon will become only the second girls team in WPIAL history to win three PIAA titles in a row. North Catholic won three in Class AAA from 1993-95. No WPIAL boys team has won three in a row.

Overall, only five Pennsylvania girls teams have won three in a row.

If Mt. Lebanon gets its trio of championships, the duo of Kestler and Cable will be able to recount every step of the journey. K.C. and the Blue Devil Band have been playing these title gigs for a while.

Cable is a 5-foot-11 senior guard in her third year as a starter for Mt. Lebanon. Kestler is a 5-5 senior point guard who has been a starter for two years, but also was one of Mt. Lebanon's top reserves as a sophomore.

It is highly unusual for a team to win three titles, but it is also unusual for two players to be integral parts of a possible threepeat.

"I guess it's really crazy to think about that," Cable said.

This isn't just the third PIAA championship game for Kestler and Cable. It is the fourth. They were freshmen when Mt. Lebanon lost in the 2008 title game to Central Dauphin. Although neither were starters in that game, both played.

You'll be hard-pressed to find many players -- boys or girls -- in Pennsylvania history who have played in four PIAA championship games. There have been some, though.

For example, Carlisle's Billy Owens, a Pennsylvania schoolboy legend, was a starter on four Class AAAA championship teams from 1985-88. On the girls side, Oakland Catholic's Meg Bulger started in four AAAA title games from 2000-03 (Oakland Catholic won two), and North Catholic's Jackie Porac started in four AAA championship games from 1992-95 (North Catholic won three).

"To be honest, I don't think it has really hit us yet how unusual this is," Kestler said. "I guess it will hit me in the future if we win, and I'm able to look back on it all."

The Kestler-Cable combination goes back to elementary school. They have been playing together since fifth grade, when they were members of Mt. Lebanon's youth traveling team. Their teams were good back then, but not dominant like today.

All those games together, all those passes to each other and all those wins have created a special bond.

"I wouldn't say it's a connection. We just play well together," Cable said.

Cable leads Mt. Lebanon in scoring at 17 points a game.

Kestler doesn't average in double figures, but scoring is not her primary duty. She is one of the best point guards in the WPIAL, knifing through defenses with deft ballhandling and creating scoring opportunities for others with outstanding passes.

"I think since we've played together for as long as I can remember, we just know where each other is going to be on the court," Kestler said. "We know what it means when we give each other a head nod to go backdoor or something like that."

Cable and Kestler come from basketball families. Cable's mom, Sue, was a standout at Beaver Falls and played at Duquesne University. Her father, Dale, was a Duquesne assistant coach in the early 1980s.

Kestler's father, Hal, is Seton-LaSalle's boys coach. Anna's older brother, Geoff, and older sister, Katie, were standout players at Mt. Lebanon. Geoff went on to play at Princeton.

"I'd say we're different personalities, though," Cable said of herself and Kestler.

Kestler agreed.

"Maddy is real into sports," Kestler said, with a laugh. "She really follows basketball and football. She knows things back to the 1980s and things like that. I'm not that way with sports."

Cable and Kestler are headed to Division I colleges. Cable, who was selected the Gatorade Pennsylvania Player of the Year two weeks ago, has signed with Notre Dame. Kestler is a William & Mary recruit.

But before college, there is the matter of this PIAA championship tonight. While a win would give Mt. Lebanon (24-6) a third consecutive PIAA title, it would give coach Dori Oldaker her fifth title. She also won two at Blackhawk.

"We know we have to be leaders," Kestler said. "We know we have to set the tone."


For more on high school sports, go to "Varsity Blog" at www.post-gazette.com/varsityblog . Mike White: mwhite@post-gazetete.com or 412-263-1975.


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