Mohawk tops Beaver to claim 1st WPIAL Class 3A girls basketball title

Saturday, February 29, 2020 | 12:40 PM

All six Mohawk girls basketball players who attended the press conference following the WPIAL Class 3A girls basketball championship game couldn’t help but talk over each other.

The Warriors were brand new to all the pomp and circumstance surrounding playing in a title game Saturday morning at the Petersen Events Center. Mohawk didn’t wilt under the big lights, smothering section rival Beaver, 44-26, to win the school’s first WPIAL crown.

Through all the banter afterward, junior guard Hannah McDanel summarized the general feeling succinctly.

“It’s a lot of fun,” said McDanel, who scored 11 points.

Mohawk’s defense was the most joyous group.

The Warriors’ offense struggled in the first quarter, shooting 0 of 8 from the 3-point line.

“Obviously, we feel it,” said senior guard Karly McCutcheon, who finished with eight points. “We know when we aren’t hitting our shots. We’re going to keep shooting because we shoot every day.”

With the score tied 5-5 after the first quarter, things started to open up. McCutcheon made a 3-pointer with 7 minutes, 24 seconds left before halftime to put Mohawk ahead 8-5. That kicked off a 16-2 run.

Warriors coach Mike O’Lare thought his team might have a slow start.

“Well, we said before the game this morning and said it again before the game that the first four minutes they may not know their own names,” O’Lare said. “We were going to give them the first four minutes to get it going and see what happened. At the first-quarter timeout, we said it’s 0-0, let’s start again.”

The teams didn’t need to make major adjustments since they split a pair of meetings during the regular season.

Beaver (21-4) was never able to get started. The Bobcats went 1 for 14 from beyond the arc and only trimmed the lead to single digits once after Mohawk’s big run.

Emma Pavelek, who led Beaver with 10 points,cut the lead to 25-17 with 4:48 left in the third quarter with a layup. That shot closed an 8-0 run for the Bobcats, but Beaver wouldn’t get any closer.

This was the second loss in the championship game for the Bobcats in the past three years. Beaver fell, 50-49, to North Catholic in the Class 4A title game in 2018.

“We weren’t aggressive today,” Bobcats coach Greg Huston said. “We didn’t attack the way we wanted to. It’s hard to explain that. We were passive.”

Mohawk (22-3) didn’t let the run bother them. The Warriors closed the third quarter with a 5-0 spurt and never let Beaver back in the game.

Nadia Lape led the Warriors with 14 points, while Paige Julian contributed 11.

Mohawk turned in a balanced effort. Most importantly, the Warriors were never overcome by stage fright.

“Honestly, we took it as another game,’ McCutcheon said. “We played them twice in season, and we just took it as a nice court and we’re pumped about it. It’s two hoops and a ball, and we do that every day.”

Watch the archived video stream broadcast on Trib HSSN.

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