Mt. Lebanon girls upset No. 2 Peters Township in Section 3 clash

Thursday, January 11, 2018 | 10:39 PM

Mt. Lebanon girls basketball coach Dori Oldaker started the week just wanting her squad to stay in the hunt for the WPIAL playoffs.

But after a 44-43 upset of No. 2 Peters Township on Thursday night, the fifth-ranked Blue Devils (6-7, 3-1) are on top of the Section 3-6A standings.

“On Monday, we had our lunch handed to us against Bethel Park,” Oldaker said. “All we were thinking about was staying alive for the playoffs. It had nothing to do with section titles or staying in the upper echelon. We just wanted to get wins for the playoffs.”

The Indians (10-2, 3-1) carried an 8-7 lead midway through the first quarter after a Lillian Young jumper. But Mt. Lebanon responded with a 12-2 run, sparked by a pair of 3-pointers from Alyssa Hyland.

The senior guard scored 10 of her 14 points in the first quarter.

“Getting Hyland her opportunities was huge,” Oldaker said. “Knocking down shots helped her confidence, and it sparked our team.”

Mt. Lebanon never trailed after the first quarter.

Jamey Napoleon stepped up for the Blue Devils in the second quarter, finding success in the paint, and scored six of her team’s eight points to help build the Mt. Lebanon lead to 27-18 at the half.

“We have fallen behind at times,” Peters Township coach Bert Kendall said. “We have won two one-point games already this year. We feel like we have confidence to do it. We felt like we had it going, but we came up one basket short.”

Peters Township began to cut into the deficit in the second half. Makenna Marisa scored all of the Indians’ 13 points in the third quarter to pull her squad within six.

“She is a special player,” Kendall said. “We are glad that we have her. She is our leader. She gets us going and did it again tonight.”

Peters Township’s defense held Mt. Lebanon scoreless for nearly five minutes in the fourth quarter as it cut the deficit to 37-34.

The Blue Devils were 2 of 8 from the free-throw line over the final 1 minute, 42 seconds. The lack of scoring allowed the Indians to pull within a point after a 3-pointer from Isabella Mills with 12.1 seconds to play.

Marisa’s shot from half court at the buzzer was just off.

“We stayed with our game plan,” Oldaker said. “Peters Township is a great team, and they really came after us in the fourth quarter. Sometimes you have to just keep playing and fight through that adversity.”

Napoleon finished with 14 points for the Blue Devils, and Haley Sabol added 10. Marisa led all scorers with 24.

The Blue Devils have won four straight against the Indians.

“Mt. Lebanon is a rival, and we always have close games it seems,” Kendall said. “We knew coming in that it was going to be a battle. I think we dug too big of a hole in the first quarter. It was the only quarter we lost.

“My hat is off to them. They played great defense and are well-coached.”

Nathan Smith is a freelance writer.

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