Fusetti fuels Blackhawk’s offense in PIAA 2nd-round win against Southmoreland

Saturday, March 12, 2022 | 7:01 PM

Alena Fusetti knows she doesn’t have to be the main scorer on a team with so much depth and balance.

But the Blackhawk sophomore had a green light and a feel for the rims Saturday, so she asserted herself in a PIAA Class 4A second-round playoff game.

Fusetti poured in a career-high 29 points, making five 3-pointers, to power WPIAL champion Blackhawk to a 72-52 victory over Southmoreland at North Allegheny.

The Cougars (26-0) advance to take on Villa Maria (23-2) on Wednesday in what will be their first state quarterfinal appearance since 2015.

Southmoreland, making its second trip to the state second round in three years, ends the season at 19-5.

Fusetti has scored in bunches before. She had 28 points and made eight 3s in a WPIAL semifinal win over Elizabeth Forward.

Her mind was ticking between offense and defense as she also helped the Cougars force steals that opened the transition game.

“Our goal was to shut down No. 10 (Olivia Cernuto) and No. 15 (Gracie Spadaro), and we did that,” Fusetti said. “We followed through with our gameplan. We wanted the game to come to us.”

Junior Olivia Cernuto and senior Gracie Spadaro, the Scotties’ formidable one-two scoring punch, combined for 30 points. Spadaro had 16 and Cernuto 14.

The Cougars made 10 3s for the game.

“We shot it well today,” Blackhawk coach Steve Lodovico said. “We had to create our tempo. The main thing was to get the ball out of Cernuto’s hands and make someone else bring the ball up. I have a lot of respect for Southmoreland. They know how to win.”

Blackhawk led 21-12 after the first quarter and 39-23 at the half. The Scotties never scored more than four points in a row and trailed by double figures the entire second half.

“We wanted to take care of their pressure and put the ball in the post,” Scotties coach Amber Cernuto said. “I thought we did a good job of that. We just didn’t finish.”

A run at the end of the second quarter put Blackhawk ahead to stay. After senior Elle Pawlikowsky hit a 3 to cut it to 30-23, the Cougars scored the last nine points of the half.

Fusetti converted a steal into a three-point play, sophomore Haley Romigh scored off another takeaway and senior Deryn Moye touched in a floater in the lane as time expired to make it 39-23.

“We did some good things,” Amber Cernuto said. “But you can’t match 2s with 3s.”

Fusetti made three 3s in the first quarter to set the tone for Blackhawk. She scored 10 in the third.

“Alena can do that,” Lodovico said. “She has that ability to light it up quick. Kassie Potts and Deryn Moye did such a good job on controlling the tempo for us today.”

Potts added 16 points, and junior Quinn Borroni chipped in eight.

Senior Delaynie Morvosh and junior Maddie Moore had seven apiece for the Scotties.

“Anyone can step up on this team,” Fusetti said. “We have so much confidence.”

Southmoreland played with heavy hearts. Just hours before the game, the Cernutos learned a family member, Brian Hyde, was killed after he was hit by a vehicle while clearing snow at his Scottdale home.

He was the uncle of Olivia Cernuto and the brother-in-law of Amber Cernuto’s husband, Mike.

“Brian was a big supporter and loved to watch the kids play,” Amber Cernuto said. “It’s all so shocking and sad. I wanted to be here for the girls. He would have wanted Liv to play.”

Lodovico felt for the team.

“I can’t imagine what they’re going through,” he said. “We wish them all the best.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.

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