Bethel Park wins ‘ugly,’ beats Mt. Lebanon to advance to WPIAL 6A title game

Tuesday, February 25, 2020 | 10:52 PM

The last time Bethel Park and Mt. Lebanon Blue Devils matched up, scoring was not at a premium.

When the two met Tuesday in a WPIAL Class 6A semifinal at Canon-McMillan, defense dominated.

The lone exception was the first quarter, when the top-seeded Black Hawks managed 15 points on their way to a 35-29 victory. Bethel Park earned a trip to Petersen Events Center, where it will play North Allegheny on Saturday for the WPIAL title.

It wasn’t pretty, as the teams combined to miss nearly 30 3-pointers, including the last 25, but despite the poor shooting numbers, both defenses consistently created turnovers.

“I think it was a credit to both defenses. [Mt. Lebanon] always plays great defense, and we knew we couldn’t match with them, so we had to stay in the zone all night,” Bethel Park coach Jonna Burke said. “Luckily for us, we did just enough, I guess, and made some free throws down the stretch to hold on and win, but it was definitely ugly offensively.”

Bethel Park (21-2) made eight free throws in the fourth quarter. In fact, all eight of their points in the fourth were scored at the line.

“The kids stepped up in a tough situation. A lot of nerves, the girls getting screamed at by people and those kinds of things,” Burke said. “It’s tough on kids to step up to the pressure.”

Senior Lauren Mullen led the Black Hawks with 11 points. Bethel Park’s top scorers, Maddie Dziezgowski and Olivia Westphal, scored eight and four points, respectively.

“And Lauren had to handle the ball for the majority of the night with a great defender in her face,” Burke said. “She does a great job night in and night out, handling the ball, coming up with some big plays, and she’s always a great defender.”

No Blue Devils players scored in double figures. Junior Morgan Palmer led Mt. Lebanon (18-6) with nine points.

The Blue Devils were able to cut it to a one-point deficit at 27-26 with 3 minutes, 18 seconds to play, but was unable to finish off the comeback. The PIAA playoffs await for Mt. Lebanon.

Bethel Park last reached the WPIAL title game in 2017. That year, the Black Hawks lost to top-seeded North Allegheny, 50-39, at the Pete. They will be in search of their second title. The last came in 2013 over Chartiers Valley. North Allegheny is making its fifth straight appearance in the WPIAL championship game.

“It’s expected out of them to be there, and they’re a whole different ball of wax,” Burke said. “They’re veterans. We have to be better offensively, and I have faith that we can be. But I’ll tell you too, if we play defense like we can, we can win ugly games and we’ll win like that.”

Tipoff for the Class 6A girls championship is schedule for 7 p.m. Saturday night.

Watch an archived broadcast of this game on Trib HSSN.

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