North Catholic girls top Southmoreland to win school’s 20th WPIAL title

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Friday, February 28, 2020 | 8:35 PM


Storied. Perennial power. Gold standard.

Labels like that follow programs with the ilk of North Catholic — programs that win, reload rosters and win some more.

Those are labels teams such as Southmoreland long to have attached to its name.

The Trojanettes girls basketball team added another piece of hardware to the trophy case in Cranberry by winning its 20th WPIAL championship while also joining a short list of five other programs that have won four consecutive titles.

North Catholic took command early in the second quarter Friday night and dispatched previously unbeaten Southmoreland, 61-44, to take the Class 4A championship at Pitt’s Petersen Events Center.

This was a matchup of one program making history and another adding to it.

North Catholic (24-1) extended its WPIAL record for girls titles and joined Vincentian Academy, Aliquippa, Penn Hills, Geibel and Oakland Catholic as programs to four-peat.

“Our seniors have left an unbelievable legacy,” Trojanettes coach Molly Rottmann said. “We have nine seniors, and for most of them, this is their fourth time here. We came in with a good gameplan. Southmoreland is a good team: long, athletic and battled us until the end.”

The loss was the first of the year for surging Southmoreland (24-1), which cut the lead to 19-17 early in the second quarter but did not threaten after that.

The Scotties were making their WPIAL finals debut as their historic season continued.

“They shot the ball so well,” Southmoreland coach Brian Pritts said of North Catholic. “We were a little sluggish on the defensive end. I thought our girls did a nice job attacking them. Hopefully, we get another crack at them (in the PIAA playoffs).”

Rottmann won her ninth title at her alma mater, second most in WPIAL history behind the late Don Barth, who coached Rottmann when she played.

North Catholic built a double-digit lead early in the second quarter and never looked back, stretching the advantage to 57-34 early in the fourth.

Senior Emma Pospisil led all scorers with 18 points, senior Kylee Lewandowski added 14 and senior Tess Myers had 13 for North Catholic, which made nine 3-pointers.

Pospisil made 7 of 9 shots, including 4 of 5 3-pointers.

Lewandowski grabbed eight rebounds, and senior Cassie Foster had six assists.

That makes four WPIAL titles in four years as a starter for Myers, a Duquesne commit.

“This means everything,” said Myers, a Lower Burrell native who sat out a portion of the first half with foul trouble. “It’s really special to play in this game four times.”

Sophomore Gracie Spadaro had 12 points, and freshman Olivia Cernuto had 10 points for Southmoreland, which had a large following take up most of the space under the lower bowl behind the team benches.

Pritts said the school presold more than 600 tickets. The town made the trip to the finals an event.

“We had so much support. There were fan buses, and a lot of people came to the game,” senior guard Carlie Collins said.

Said senior guard Charity Henderson: “I took $100 to school to buy tickets for my mom. It’s a town where everybody knows everybody.”

The result aside, senior forward Sarah Pisula said the trip to the Pete was a memorable experience.

“Walking onto that floor was like something out of a movie,” she said.

But the script favored North Catholic. Again.

A close game early, Southmoreland led 5-4 on a 3-pointer by Cernuto. Pisula cut it to 16-11 later in the first quarter, and Henderson splashed in a halfcourt shot at the first-quarter buzzer.

“I practice those every day at practice,” Henderson said with a smile.

Southmoreland senior Erika Sherbondy cut it to 19-17 to open the second quarter, but the Trojanettes took control from there, outscoring the Scotties, 23-9, to take a 42-26 lead into the half.

North Catholic made six 3-pointers in the second quarter, two each from Pospisil and Lewandowski.

It was 52-33 after three as Pospisil beat the buzzer with a 3.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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