Leechburg girls basketball gets offense going, tops Riverview

Friday, January 19, 2018 | 12:03 AM


By the end of the first quarter of Thursday's Section 2-2A girls basketball game against Riverview, Leechburg had found its offense and the Raiders were not able to keep pace.

Three Blue Devils players scored in double figures, led by 21 from Mikayla Lovelace, in a 72-49 victory at Leechburg.

“We played very well tonight. We played as a team,” said Brittany Robilio, who added 18 points for Leechburg.

“We came out and fought hard against a good Riverview team.”

Leechburg kept pace atop the section standings at 7-1 and improved to 11-2 overall. Elsewhere, Vincentian remained undefeated at 8-0 in section as it took care of Northgate, 70-26.

The Blue Devils hoped to keep their momentum built through Monday's 80-70 win over third-place Brentwood (6-2), which bounced back Thursday by beating Ellis School.

Leechburg started quickly as Makenzie Fello converted a layup off of the opening tip 8 seconds into the game. The Blue Devils forced Riverview (6-7, 3-5) to commit four early turnovers, and they owned a 6-0 lead just over a minute in to the contest.

The Raiders, however, didn't wilt under the early pressure as Sydney McDonough converted a three-point play and added a layup off a turnover to pull her team to within 6-5 with 4:12 left in the opening quarter.

But a 12-5 Leechburg run, spearheaded by five points from Lovelace and four more from Fello, helped create some separation for the hosts as the first quarter came to a close.

“You might be able to shut one or two of them down, but then the others can beat you,” Riverview coach Keith Stitt said. “We were hoping to play them a little tougher, but they were hitting their shots and we just weren't able to match it and stay with them.”

The Blue Devils kept their foot on the gas in the second quarter to extend their lead. A layup from Robilio in the opening minute of the second started a 10-3 Leechburg run that concluded with a Cameron Davies 3-pointer.

Davies drilled two from long distance in the frame and finished with six points.

Lovelace added five points in the second, and Robilio and Daesha Knight added four apiece as Leechburg led 41-20 at the break.

“They were able to slow us down at times, but through our veteran leadership and our ability to share the ball, we were able to work through what Riverview's defense was trying to do,” Leechburg coach Joel Ceraso said.

“It was close for a while there in the first half, then all of a sudden, I looked up, and we were up 19. I thought we played really well defensively, holding them to 20 points in the first half. We were aggressive, forced turnovers and rebounded well.”

Robilio scored Leechburg's first 11 points coming out of halftime, and halfway through the third quarter, the lead had swelled to 30 at 52-22.

“Once Brittany gets on a roll, she can knock down shots. She's a great finisher,” Ceraso said. “When she's on, the points can come in bunches.”

Despite the deficit, Riverview didn't fold its tent and closed out the third quarter on a 13-3 run. Francesca Lio scored nine of her team-best 15 in the stanza. She also finished with 13 rebounds.

Ceraso said he was pleased to see his team shoot 81 percent — 13 of 16 — from the free-throw line. Fello was 5 of 6 from the line and finished with 15 points, and Lovelace converted four of her five from the charity stripe.

In addition to her 21 points, Lovelace added 13 rebounds, six steals and six assists. Knight finished with eight points and pulled down eight rebounds.

McKenzie Smail joined Lio in double figures for Riverview as she recorded a trio of 3-pointers and ended with 12 points. McDonough finished with 10 points for the Raiders.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at mlove@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Mlove_Trib.

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