North Catholic Trojanettes Win WPIAL-Record 22nd WPIAL Title
PITTSBURGH — Blackhawk and North Catholic both walked into the Petersen Events Center looking to win back-to-back WPIAL titles but only one could walk away as this year’s victor. North Catholic used a solid defensive day to claim the girls’ Class-4A title as the Trojanettes defeated the Cougars 51-35.
Alayna Rocco’s game-high 16 points paced the Trojanettes as she shot over 50% from the field. Rocco is currently being recruited by Harvard among other schools.
“I was definitely looking to be confident because a few games ago I was kinda off and you don’t want to get in your head,” said Rocco postgame. “I definitely was more confident in [my shot] today and my teammates getting me the ball and helping me get open and knocking down those wide-open threes. That helped a lot.”
North Catholic also received solid contributions from Ava Walker and Akron commit Dacia Lewandowski. Walker added 13 points while Lewandowski scored 8. Tori Drevna also added 8 points in the victory.
“The thing about North is, what separates them from a lot of teams and separates them from us right now is multiple scorers on the floor,” said Cougars head coach Steve Lodovico. “You can’t focus on one girl.”
While the Trojanettes finished under their season average of points (57.4) it was their defense that propelled the Trojanettes to victory.
“It was one of [the best defensive games] for sure,” said Trojanettes’ head coach Molly Rottman. “They did a great job. We knew what was coming and [we] communicated. We talked about that, communicate early and often.”
Scoring in the first quarter was hard to come by despite both teams liking to pile on the points. The Trojanettes locked the Cougars up in the opening quarter and led 8-6 while only allowing Alena Fusetti to score.
Fusetti scored all six Blackhawk points in the first and finished with a team-high 13 points. Fusetti also scored her 1,000th career point in the loss.
“It was really awesome finally to reach that goal, I’ve always had it,” said Fusetti. “But, it would have been better if we pulled off the win.”
Aubree Hupp also finished in double digits as she added 12 points for the Cougars. Hupp started for most of this season as a freshman in place of the injured Cougar’s star Quinn Borroni, also finished in double digits as she added 12 points for the Cougars.
“She’s been phenomenal for us, not only as she started, but just all season. When she was put into that starting role as a freshman in the first game, she stepped right up. Obviously, she is not Quinn Borroni but I think she has done a great job for us and is playing really confident… she is only a freshman so she will continue to get better.” said Lodovico.
North Catholic started the second quarter on a 5-0 run but Blackhawk managed to stay in striking distance with a couple of quick buckets. The Trojanettes carried a 26-17 lead into halftime.
By the start of the fourth quarter, the Trojanettes extended their lead to 15 points, their largest lead of the day but allowed a 7-0 run that gave the Cougars late life. Needing to make adjustments, the legendary coach Molly Rottman used a timeout to gather her players.
“We just talked about settling down a little bit, making sure we are getting some good looks, get some driving finishes at the rim versus just settling,” said Rottman about her message to the team during the timeout.
A year after winning the Class-3A title against Freedom, North Catholic returned to Class-4A and won again at a higher level of competition. The Trojanettes have now won a WPIAL-record 22 WPIAL titles.
“Our motivation going into everything, our scrimmages and preseason games and playing against harder competition makes us ready for any competition we see,” said Walker. “We just come in with the mentality that we’re going to try our hardest and leave it all out on the floor.”
Rottman added that no matter the opponent, the preparation will continue to be the same.
North Catholic and Blackhawk will turn their attention and preparation to the PIAA state playoffs with their opponents not yet determined.