Blackhawk girls looking to rebound for another section title

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Sunday, February 2, 2020 | 11:29 PM


Blackhawk was thinking sweep, but Central Valley had other ideas.

The Warriors snapped the Cougars’ nine-game winning streak Thursday with a 58-50 win. It halted Blackhawk’s home winning streak at 21 games, too. The Cougars’ last loss on John Miller Court came nearly three years ago in a 57-54 setback to Beaver on Feb. 9, 2017.

It’s not time to panic for Blackhawk, though, as it sits in a tie with Central Valley atop the Section 2-4A standings at 9-1. The Cougars could lock up a share of their eighth section title in the last nine years with wins in their last two games. Blackhawk and Central Valley, who have split their section games the past three seasons, shared the title last year, too.

“It’s one loss in the section. As much as we hate losing, you have to keep your eye on the prize and keep moving forward and try to finish out these last two in the section and get a piece of the section title,” Blackhawk coach Steve Lodovico said. “We’ll get back on track. We want to keep our championship tradition going and put another one up on the banner.”

Before Thursday’s setback, Blackhawk was one of the WPIAL’s hottest teams. The Cougars, who have the WPIAL’s top offense at 68.8 points per game, were coming off an 84-31 win at Keystone Oaks.

“I think we’re playing some of our best basketball right now, which is great,” Lodovico said.

Senior guard Mackenzie Amalia, a Robert Morris recruit, scored 36 points in that win. Her eight 3-pointers tied Chassidy Omogrosso’s program record. Amalia leads the team with a scoring average around 20 points per game.

“Being up there with Chassidy is awesome. I am very honored,” Amalia said. “I feel like we’re playing really well. I think a big part of that is how together our team is right now. We have a special bond, and our chemistry is amazing.”

Blackhawk (16-3) has maintained a high-scoring offense despite graduating Mady Aulbach, who is playing at Youngstown State.

“We were figuring how to replace her scoring, and we knew we couldn’t do it with one person. We had to do it by committee,” Lodovico said. “Our starters have been solid, and we’re getting great minutes off the bench. It’s been a full team effort.”

Senior Sierra Richard, juniors Jolie Strati and Alivia Thompson and freshman Quinn Borroni have joined Amalia in the starting lineup. Sophomore Casey Nixon and freshman Kassie Potts are the first two off the bench. They’ve been thriving in the Cougars’ high-scoring system.

“If you look at us since Chassidy was here around 2013-14, we started really creating that tempo,” Lodovico said. “A lot of it comes from our defense and the way we press, which creates a lot of scoring opportunities. It’s a fun brand of basketball. The kids love to play it, and it’s worked well for us.”

Said Amalia: “It’s awesome to be up there scoring points. It’s not just coming from one or two people, though. We have four girls in double digits. Defense has always been important to our offense, too. We try to get going on defense and let our defensive intensity bring our offense. Our shots won’t always fall, but, if we can get stops and steals, eventually, our offense will come.”

Joe Sager is a freelance writer.

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