Last second shot by Mt. Lebanon’s Ashleigh Connor hands No. 1 Bethel Park its first loss

Thursday, January 23, 2020 | 10:51 PM

In Mt. Lebanon’s two-point loss to Imhotep Charter on Saturday in the MLK Showcase at Woodland Hills, Blue Devils sophomore Ashleigh Connor hit the front rim on a 3-pointer that would have won the game at the buzzer.

After the game, Blue Devils coach Dori Oldaker told Connor it wouldn’t be the last time she had the ball in her hands with a chance to win the game.

They didn’t expect that next time to be two games later.

After Bethel Park senior Maddie Dziezgowski gave the Black Hawks a one-point lead after they had trailed most of the game, Connor got the chance. She drove coast to coast and laid the ball in just before the buzzer to lift Mt. Lebanon to a 52-51 win, handing the Black Hawks, Class 6A’s No. 1 team, their first loss of the season.

Oldaker was elated Connor came through in the spot.

“We want the ball in her hands,” Oldaker said. “We knew there would be more times where we needed her to win for us, and she did it tonight.”

Connor said as soon as she saw Dziezgowski’s shot go in that she wanted the ball immediately to go down the whole way.

“It was get the ball in to whoever could get it and get the ball to me to go down the whole way,” Connor said. “Nobody was guarding Patrice (Smith), so I told her to set a screen and I’d go the other way. Riley (Miller of Bethel Park) went right, so I went left and I got in and went up the court.

“Morgan (Palmer) pinned Maddie (Dziezgowski), so I just thought I’d go for the lay-up, and I’m so happy it went in.”

Connor, who had a double-double for the Blue Devils, scored a game-high 25 points, including 12 in the first half. The rest came in the fourth quarter.

No. 4 Mt. Lebanon led almost the entire way, and led at the end of every quarter, including a 17-7 advantage after one. Bethel Park scored more points in every other quarter, but would only take the lead twice, including the Dziezgowski lay-in with 7.3 seconds remaining.

Dziezgowski, who scored her 1,000th point Monday, and junior Olivia Westphal both scored 17 points for the Black Hawks, while Morgan Palmer, a junior at Mt. Lebanon, scored 13 points of her own.

The win moves the Blue Devils to 14-3 overall and 9-1 in Section 2-6A, while it drops Bethel Park to 14-1 overall and 9-1 in the section.

Oldaker downplayed the meaning of the win for the Blue Devils but talked about how great of a game it was for the crowd to see and about the atmosphere for the girls tilt.

“What a great game for the fans and for high school girls basketball,” Oldaker said. “Bethel Park is a very good team, and they are No. 1 for a reason. It was a total team effort. So many girls contributed in so many different ways.”

Oldaker said the players will enjoy it tonight but move on to their next game as soon as they can.

“We knew this was going to be a drag-down battle. We have so much respect for them,” Oldaker said. “Nobody is cutting down nets. We have Baldwin on Monday.”

Connor said that while they are focused on the next challenge, this was an important win for her team.

“Coming in, we knew it would be a big game,” Connor said. “Winning is just spectacular. It’s a huge win for us. We knew we could beat them and knowing our team did that, it was amazing. We’re fine with it if we have a huge target on our back now.”

Bethel Park returns to action Saturday against Woodland Hills at the Joey Fabus Memorial Classic, which the Black Hawks host. Mt. Lebanon plays at Baldwin in section 2-6A play Monday.

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