Blackhawk girls keep strong lead over South Park to secure Class AAA basketball title
March 2, 2014 12:18 AM
Blackhawk's Danielle Levato wrestles the ball away from South Park's Allison McGrath in the WPIAL Class AAA final Saturday at Palumbo Center.
Blackhawk's players raise the WPIAL Girls AAA championship trophy after beating South Park Saturday at Palumbo Center.
By Mike White / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Blackhawk built a big lead on a record-breaking 3-point shooting performance.
Then when South Park threatened to take it back, the Cougars showed their marksmanship a little closer to the basket.
The combination of 3-point shooting and a deft touch from the free-throw line helped Blackhawk defeat South Park, 62-55, in the WPIAL Class AAA girls championship Saturday afternoon at Palumbo Center. It was the second title in four years for Blackhawk under coach Steve Lodovico.
Blackhawk 62, South Park 55
South Park takes on Blackhawk in WPIAL Playoff basketball action. (Video by Justin K. Aller; 03/01/2014)
“It’s kind of what we do, shoot the ball,” Lodovico said.
Shooting was a day-long activity for the Cougars. For the first time this season, they had a team shootaround at the school before they left for the game. They kept shooting all around Palumbo when the game started.
Blackhawk (23-2) set a WPIAL Class AAA championship record with eight 3-pointers. The old record was seven by, coincidentally, Blackhawk in 2001 and North Catholic in 2004. Those eight 3s came in the first three quarters and helped build a 17-point lead.
But South Park (21-6) came back behind the play of Halie Torris and Allison McGrath and cut the lead to 53-52 with 1:45 left. But from there, Blackhawk made 9 of 10 free throws to hold off the Eagles.
“We usually shoot pretty well, but I think we were just a little more consistent today than we usually are,” said Bridgette Shaffer, a junior guard for Blackhawk. “In a big game, maybe it was a little surprising to shoot like that.”
Shaffer hit four 3-pointers and scored 14 points. Junior guard Chassidy Omogrosso, a Duquesne recruit, hit three 3-pointers and attempted a few from seemingly the Red Ring restaurant down on Forbes Ave. She finished with 17 points on her future home court. Halle Denman also had a big game with one 3-pointer and 21 points. She made 5 of 6 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter.
“Omogrosso and Shaffer are great shooters. I think they’re the two best shooters in the WPIAL,” Lodovico said.
Omogrosso now has 62 3-pointers for the season and Shaffer 59. The two shoot a combined 41 percent from 3-point range.
Blackhawk was able to find open shots against South Park’s zone in the first three quarters. Blackhawk held a 47-35 lead heading into the fourth after shooting 53 percent in the first three. South Park coach Reggie Wells eventually switched to a man-to-man defense.
“It’s a tough defense to attack,” Lodovico said. “The way you have to do it is spread out and hit gaps. We did it with penetration and kickouts and we made them go man-to-man. Reggie never goes man.”
McGrath had 19 points for South Park and Torris 15. But after a basket by Torris brought the Eagles within 53-52, Blackhawk made two free throws and South Park missed a one-and-one. Shaffer made two free throws and after a South Park miss, Denman made two with 23.7 seconds left to seal the win.
“They shot us out of that zone. We probably should’ve got out of it earlier,” Wells said. “But I’m not disappointed. I was proud of the way we came back.
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