Connect with us


North Catholic Holds Off Blackhawk in Overtime to Win Record-Extending 23rd WPIAL Title in 4A Girls’ Championship



North Catholic

PITTSBURGH – Winning WPIAL championships in girls’ basketball is a tradition unlike any other at North Catholic. An already overloaded trophy case is gaining more hardware. 

Game 10 of 12 at the Petersen Events Center commenced at the halfway point of Saturday action to conclude a three-day window of WPIAL Championship games. 

No. 2 North Catholic battled No. 1 Blackhawk for the chance to hoist the WPIAL Class 4A Title and came out on top 40-37 in overtime for the team’s record-extending 23rd WPIAL crown. North Catholic defeated Blackhawk for the second straight season in the WPIAL 4A final, but also got revenge for losing to them in the PIAA Semifinals, 45-40.

“Crazy.” “Good.” “Amazing.” North Catholic players were left speechless after taking down the Cougars at the Petersen Events Center.

The excitement increased considerably as the game went on despite a sluggish first quarter. 

Blackhawk began action 1-for-11 from the field and both teams combined for eight points as the Trojans took a 6-2 lead at the end of the first period. North Catholic and Blackhawk combined to shoot 4-for-22 in the first eight minutes, but the offense significantly picked up in the second quarter.

The Cougars outscored the Trojans 13-9 in the ensuing eight minutes and improved on a 9% field-goal percentage to an 18% total. Blackhawk dominated the offensive glass with 10 offensive rebounds compared to North Catholic’s two. 

Alayna Rocco paced NC with seven points, while Brady Wehner chipped in five. Andrea Kiger scored a team-best five points in the first half as all five Blackhawk starters scored before the break.

“It’s a range of emotions,” Blackhawk head coach Molly said. “Every year is its own journey. This one was pretty awesome what we had to get through to win the game today.”

Alena Fusetti tied the game at 19 with five minutes left in the third quarter on and an-one, then gave Blackhawk the lead with the ensuing free throw. Fusetti made three of her previous four buckets to propel Blackhawk’s offense. North Catholic struggled to find an offensive rhythm as neither offensive clicked on all cylinders. 

Both teams continued to shoot poorly, but things changed for Blackhawk in the final five minutes of the third period. The Cougars delivered a 6-0 run to take a 26-21 lead into the fourth quarter, as North Catholic failed to score in the final 4:53. Fusetti went to the fourth with nine points and Rocco had 11. 

North Catholic scored an early bucket before Blackhawk slowed the pace. A basket and a Cougars turnover gave the ball back to the Trojans with a chance to take the lead. A long three-point attempt by Rocco bounced off the front of the rim and gave possession back to Blackhawk. Aubree Huck picked a good time to score her first field goal, but Lauren Reitz responded back with two points of her own to spark an exciting fourth quarter. 

With the game level at 30-30 with under four minutes to go, Alayna Rocco continued her electric second half with two more points to extend her game-high to 18. 

“She’s a super smart player,” Rottmann said. “Coach’s kid. Very good IQ. We kind of realized they were all over Brady [Wehner], that’s been happening the last couple of games, so Alayna was able to take advantage of that gap and did a great job with it.”

An incredible spin move by Hupp for a layup in transition resulted in an and-on opportunity, but she missed the free throw, and Rocco scored again down the other end to grab the lead back at 34-32. It took three chances for Hupp to draw a foul underneath the basket and head to the free-throw line, but she failed to convert. Hupp missed two free throws to keep the score the same.

An empty possession by North Catholic allowed Fusetti to stepped to the foul line on the next possession and she made both of her free throws to tie it at 34-34. 

“They were focused, and I think that was a huge part of today,” Rottman said.

North Catholic held the ball for the final shot in the final minute of regulation. The Trojans couldn’t convert on an open corner 3-pointer and jumper inside the paint to win it at the buzzer.

Blackhawk wouldn’t stop them in overtime, though.

The Trojans went ahead 38-34 with over a minute remaining. Piper Romigh drained a corner 3-pointer to cut the deficit to one. With under 30 seconds left, Rocco did it again. She made two free throws to put the lead back to three. Hupp had two chances to extend the game to a second overtime, but failed to convert on both 3-pointers she shot before the horn.

Rocco ended the game with 26 points for North Catholic. Everyone else scored 14 points combined. Fusetti, 11 points and Hupp, 10 points both scored in double figures in the losing effort. 15 turnovers and a 32.6% field-goal rate didn’t come back to punish the Trojans as they found a way to make history again.

With the victory, Rottmann surpassed legendary head coach Don Barth (11) for the most WPIAL titles in school history. Barth passed away in 2017.

“He’s iconic to me so, in my own mind, I’m never going to pass Mr. (Don) Barth because he’s the best ever,” Rottmann said. “Just to have my name linked with his is a pretty big compliment. I’m going to call Mrs. Barth. I want to do this to make him proud.”

North Catholic faces District 10 fourth-place finisher Conneaut in the first round of the PIAA state playoffs. Blackhawk will battle District 10 third-place finalist Harbor Creek, with both games taking place next Saturday, March 9.

“I’m so happy and so proud of this group of girls… and proud of what we did together,” Blackhawk head coach and native Greg Huston said following the loss in his first season leading the program.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
Click to comment
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Get PSN in your inbox!

Enter your email and get all of our posts delivered straight to your inbox.

Like Pittsburgh Sports Now on Facebook!
Send this to a friend