Blackhawk sees halftime lead vanish in PIAA championship loss to Lansdale Catholic

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Saturday, March 25, 2023 | 2:05 PM


HERSHEY — Blackhawk, looking for the fifth state title in program history, came up a bit short in the PIAA Class 4A girls basketball finals Saturday afternoon as Lansdale Catholic defeated the Cougars, 53-45.

Having also finished second in the WPIAL playoffs, Blackhawk looked like it might make a double-digit comeback in the final four minutes when Alena Fusetti drained a 3-point shot with 2:20 to go to make it 46-45.

However, the Cougars (25-6) never scored again, while the Crusaders (28-2) ended the game on a 7-0 run for their first title.

Blackhawk was done in by a 6:10 scoring drought in the third quarter, which allowed Lansdale Catholic to go on an 11-0 run and take a 38-30 lead into the fourth quarter.

“We went on a cold streak, and we know against the good teams they’re going to capitalize on that,” said Blackhawk coach Steve Lodovico, who coached the Cougars to state championships in 2014 and 2015.

After Kassie Potts scored on a layup to put the Cougars ahead 30-27 early in the third, neither team scored for over two minutes. But the Crusaders got on the scoreboard after that to build a lead of their own. Gabby Casey had four of her 28 points in that run. Saniyah Littlejohn capped off the third with a jumper.

Littlejohn then extended Lansdale Catholic’s lead to 40-30 with a layup early in the fourth before Fusetti ended Blackhawk’s dry spell with a 3-point play.

The Cougars got back to 42-36 after Fusetti went 1 for 2 from the free throw line with 5:09 left in the fourth, but back-to-back scores by Casey returned the lead to 10 points. Blackhawk was forced to use its last timeout with 4:34 to play.

“We had to jump into our pressure and try to trap,” Lodovico said. “We had to get them into quick shots and rebound. We let a couple of rebound opportunities slip away.”

Blackhawk started its last push then, and the trap paid quick dividends. Fusetti had a 3-point play, which she followed with a steal out of the full-court press. After a couple of missed shots, Potts made a 3-point jumper to make it 46-42 with 3:19 to go.

“If we can get the ball to Alena or Kassie Potts, they’re going to make a play,” Lodovico said.

Fusetti finished with 20 points. Aubree Hupp had 11 while Potts scored seven.

Fusetti made a 3-point shot with 51 seconds left in the first quarter to put the Cougars up 8-5, but the Crusaders answered with hoops by Casey and Olivia Boccella to take a 9-8 lead after eight minutes.

The Cougars started to find their shooting touch in the opening minutes of the second quarter, posting an 11-3 burst to take a 19-12 lead. Hupp had a 3-point shot and an old-fashioned 3-point play in the rally, which was capped by a 3-pointer by Haley Romigh.

A 6-0 run late in the second pulled Lansdale Catholic within 23-22, but a short jumper by Potts gave Blackhawk a 25-22 edge entering halftime.

“We played a great first half versus a great team with a great player,” Lodovico said. “They just made more shots down the stretch.”

Casey finished with a game high 16 rebounds. Lansdale Catholic had a 33-24 advantage in boards.

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