Blackhawk Back On Top In WPIAL Class AAA Girls With Win Over Ambridge

Saturday, March 5, 2011 | 12:00 AM

The Blackhawk Cougars picked up their fifth WPIAL Championship with a 63-49 victory over Section 2 rivals the Ambridge Bridgers on Saturday. Alexa Hayward led the way with 21 points for Cougars, who won their 12th straight game. Blackhawk shot 23 of 30 from the foul line to clinch the victory.

With the win, Blackhawk becomes the third consecutive team from Section 2 and sixth in the last seven seasons to claim WPIAL gold, joining Moon in 2005, Hopewell in 2006-07 and New Castle the last two seasons.

After trailing 3-0, Ambridge went on a 10-0 run in the first quarter. The Bridgers lost Katie Fischer in that first quarter when she picked up her third foul. Blackhawk cut the lead to 13-11 at the end of the quarter.

Blackhawk took the lead for the first time in the second quarter, then led by as many as six, Alexa Hayward hit two big threes for the Cougars. Sam Santiago helped cut into the Blackhawk lead, she scored 8 points in the quarter.

Blackhawk led 26-22 starting the third, Ambridge, helped by Fischer, tied the game at 26, but Fischer left the game with her fourth foul just 94 seconds into the quarter. Blackhawk then went back up by seven, but Santiago brought her team back to within three, but Hayward hit two more threes, the second giving Blackhawk a 12 point cushion late in the quarter.

Both teams had foul trouble in the fourth, Santiago and Hayward each picked up their fourth fouls, Fischer fouled out of the game with 5:31 remaining. Blackhawk led 52-40 but a put back by Erin Smith and a three point play by Precious McCracken cut the lead to seven. Ambridge got another break when Hayward fouled out of the game with 3:30 left, Kayla Hazlett hit two free throws and Smith had another bucket to cut the lead to five with three minutes to play, but Ambridge did not score again.

Hayward hit five three-pointers on the afternoon, she said she is used to playing here at the Palumbo Center from AAU. Coach Steve Lodovico tasted both WPIAL and PIAA gold as a player at Blackhawk, but said he appreciates it more as a head coach, but it quite hasn't sunk in yet.

The Cougars went 17 of 43 from the field, including 6 of 9 from behind the arc, the only bad number was 21 turnovers. Blackhawk takes on the District 10 third place team in the first round of the state playoffs on Saturday, entering state play with a reecord of 21-5.

For Ambridge, Santiago scored 18 points to keep her team in the game, Smith added 13. Ambridge shot 18 of 47 from the field and missed 10 three point attempts. The Bridgers committed 18 turnovers. Blackhawk won the battle of glass 36-26.

Ambridge is now 20-7, they meet the second seeded team from District 10 in the states.

Ambridge Bridgers : 13 – 9 – 14 – 13 = 49
Blackhawk Cougars : 11 – 15 – 19 – 18 = 63

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