Pittsburgh — Midway through the first quarter, Neshannock went on a 14-0 run and the Lancers never looked back after that, as they defeated Our Lady of Sacred Heart convincingly, 55-31, in the WPIAL Class 2A Girls Championship Game on Friday afternoon at the Petersen Events Center.
It’s Neshannock’s second consecutive WPIAL title and its head coach Luann Grybowski’s sixth championship overall.
Neshannock got revenge on Our Lady of Sacred Heart from an overtime loss earlier this season that prevented the Lancers from being the No. 1 seed in the WPIAL Class 2A bracket. Neshannock was No. 2 and Our Lady of Sacred Heart was No. 1, which is something that Neshannock took personally.
“We wanted to prove that we should have been No. 1,” Neleh Nogay said.
Neshannock was looking to make a statement against Our Lady of Sacred Heart, and the Lancers did just that.
“I did tell them today to make a statement, prove to them that you’re not the No. 2,” Gybowski said.
Neshannock didn’t get the No. 1 seed because Our Lady of Sacred Heart had the edge in victories over common opponents. The Lancers also didn’t have Nogay for the loss against Sacred Heart in their second meeting. Neshannock won the first game, 60-34.
“We knew how we played against OLSH the second time was not us, and we knew that just didn’t represent how we play,” Addilae Watts said. “So, we were excited to make a statement.”
Neshannock dominated in the turnover differential margin and points scored in the paint, as the Lancers scored 16 points off Our Lady of Sacred Heart’s 19 turnovers and scored 30 points down low. The Lancers committed just nine turnovers and gave up 10 points in the paint.
Mairan Haggerty led Neshannock with 14 points and had two triples. Nogay and Megab Pallerino also scored double-digits, as Nogay scored 13 points and Pallerino had 12.
Neshannock made 22-of-54 shots from the field and was 4-of-24 from behind the arc, while Our Lady of Sacred Heart converted 10-of-34 shots and was 4-of-12 on three-point attempts.
Neshannock went into halftime with a 24-10 lead over Our Lady of Sacred Heart. The Chargers scored just six points after getting out to a 4-0 lead to start the game. Neshannock nailed back-to-back three-pointers and went on an 8-0 run to end the first half. Prior to the 8-0 run to end the half, the Lancers went on a 14-0 scoring surge.
Neshannock made 10-of-26 shots from the field in the first half and was 4-of-15 from behind the arc. In contrast, Our Lady of Sacred Heart made 3-of-15 shots and was 1-of-3 on three-point attempts. Along with struggling from the field in the first half, Our Lady of Sacred Heart also turned the ball over seven times and Neshannock scored 10 points off the giveaways.
Mairan Haggerty led Neshannock with 12 points in the first half and had two triples. Neleh Nogay was second in scoring with nine points. Emily Shuck led Our Lady of Sacred Heart with five points.
Neshannock continued to control the pace of the game and led 35-20 after three quarters of play. Our Lady of Sacred Heart just couldn’t muster a consistent rhythm on offense and the constant turnovers really hindered the Chargers. Neshannock poured it on in the fourth quarter and pulled away with a commanding 55-31 victory and a WPIAL Class 2A title.
“We didn’t free up our guards to handle the basketball,” Our Lady of Sacred Heart head coach Don Eckerle said about his offense stalling. “We didn’t pass the ball probably enough times and moved it quickly enough.”
Neshannock’s full-court press played a big part in Our Lady of Sacred Heart having an ineffective offensive attack. Coach Grybowski really designed a perfect game plan, as she played to her player’s strengths. Grybowski said she watched the loss to Our Lady of Sacred Heart from earlier this season four times.
“They love to press. They always ask to do it,” Grybowski said. “We want to force the pressure. We don’t want the pressure to apply to us.”