Lady ’Lopes lose in WPIAL quarterfinals

Avonworth’s Kstie Gould was one of the Lady ’Lopes’ offensive leaders, scoring 14 points in a WPIAL quarterfinal game played last Saturday against an undefeated East Allegheny teamled by the WPIAL’s lead scorer. Photo by Tom Steiner for The Citizen

By JIM RUMBLE

Having to play the number-two seed in 3A was a daunting challenge for the Avonworth girls’ basketball team when they faced undefeated East Allegheny in a quarterfinal game played at Penn Hills last Saturday.

Playing much better than a lot of people expected, the Lady ‘Lopes gave the Wildcats a run for their money, but came out on the short end as they were defeated 68-59.

“We wanted to win," said 'Lopes coach Mark D'Alessandris. "We had a game plan to go after them and get them, but they [East Allegheny] got a lot of calls," he said.

Both teams had problems taking care of the basketball early on as they combined for 11 turn-overs in the opening quarter.

Baskets by Katie Gould and Lily Tedesco kept the game tight in the early stages of the period before the Wildcats connected from long range to open up a 9-4 lead. Hayden Robinson followed with one of two from the line and scored in transition as the result of an East Allegheny turn-over, but the Wildcats countered with an 8-2 run to pull ahead 17-9.

Gould was fouled and made the second of two free throws before Nicole Costa hit on a short jumper off the base line to end the quarter with East Allegheny leading 17-12.

Turnovers continued to detract from both teams’ efforts on offense in the second quarter, but Avonworth managed to make up some ground. A three-ball by Hunter Robinson and a basket by Hayden Robinson accounted for only 2-12 shooting from the floor for the Antelope offense, but the team survived on 7-8 from the free throw line to trail 27-24 at the half.

The most critical stage in the game for Avonworth would occur in the early part of the third quarter. The 'Lopes turned the ball over on their first four possessions while the Wildcats connected on two three-pointers in an 8-0 run to lead 35-24 with 5:52 left in the period. Gould scored six points, while Tedesco and Hayden Robinson each scored on put-backs, but Avonworth was out-pointed 17-10 to trail 44-34 going into the fourth quarter.

The 'Lopes went toe-to-toe with the Wildcats in the fourth quarter, but could make up only one point of their deficit. The Robinson sisters fouled out in the final period, while East Allegheny guard Amani Johnson, the WPIAL's leading scorer, put on a clinic in free throw shooting with 17-18 from the line on the way to a game-high 36 point performance.

The 'Lopes’ offense was led by Gould and Hayden Robinson, each with 14 points, followed by Hunter Robinson with 11 points, Costa with 7 points, Tedesco with 6 points, Lexi Mankey with 5 points and Anna Joyce with 2 points.

Avonworth had a chance to move into state competition if East Allegheny won the WPIAL championship, but the Lady Cats lost to Neshannock in a semi-final WPIAL game played Wednesday night.