North Catholic routs Villa Marie, rolls into PIAA Class 4A semifinals
By: William Whalen
Saturday, March 16, 2019 | 7:15 PM
Even with all of its success, WPIAL Class 4A champion North Catholic girls basketball team has been in search of its most complete game of the season, and it seemed like a scare from Blackhawk on Wednesday in the PIAA second round did the trick.
After 27 games, the Trojanettes finally came out and played four quarters of North Catholic basketball.
Led by junior Tess Myers’ game-high 25 points, North Catholic put the game away early as it rolled past District 10 champion Villa Maria, 61-41, in the PIAA Class 4A quarterfinals Saturday afternoon at Oil City.
“There’s a very healthy rivalry with Villa Maria,” North Catholic coach Molly Rottmann said. “This is probably the best all-round (performance this postseason) we’ve had, for sure.”
North Catholic (25-3) advances to the PIAA semifinals to play District 4 champ Mifflinburg (26-4) on Tuesday with the site and time to be determined. Mifflinburg advanced by defeating District 3 champ Lancaster Catholic, 72-70, to end Lancaster Catholic’s 62-game winning streak.
For Villa Maria (22-4), the loss marks the second season in a row North Catholic ended its run.
“I thought we missed a couple of open shots early, and (North Catholic) was able to get out in transition when missed those shots,” Villa Maria coach Douglas Chuzie said. “Credit it to them, with their defensive rebounding and their transition, they’re a very, very talented team and well coached.”
From the get-go, North Catholic looked like a team ready to play.
North Catholic in no way looked like the sluggish team that fell into a 14-point haftime deficit against Blackhawk on Wednesday. Myers capped off a 5-0 run to start the game with a steal and a layup before the Victors’ Cassidy Creager scored with 5 minutes, 49 seconds remaining on the first-quarter clock. Creager finished with a team-high 20 points.
“Since my freshman year, all of us, we played Villa Maria every single year in the quarterfinals, so it was a very hyped up game and our adrenaline was going,” said Myers, who scored 12 of her 25 points in the first half. “Coach was emphasizing that we needed to come out there and play a complete game and so we just went out there and did it.”
Myers added a 3-pointer from the left corner, and Lucy Waskiewicz scored on a slick pass from Emma Pospisil to put the Trojanettes up 12-2.
“I think Myers played well for us the entire game,” Rottmann said. “I think the last couple of games she was struggling offensively, so I was happy for her and she played an all around fantastic game.”
North Catholic got 3-pointers from Emma Pospisil and Cassie Foster to break the game open at 18-6 to the end of the first quarter. Foster finished with 10 points.
“It takes some of the pressure off when you have a variety of people scoring,” Rottmann said.
North Catholic didn’t slow down the attack to start of the second quarter. Myers opened the second quarter with a deep 3-pointer from the top of the arc to put North Catholic up 21-6. Kylee Lewandowski added a layup before Myers swished another long ball to give the Trojanettes a commanding 25-6 lead with 5:51 left in the first half.
“They can try to play ‘box and one’ and ‘triangle and two’ (defenses) on us, but we have good teammates that can pick it up and they did,” Myers said.
North Catholic used its height advantage and dominated the boards. With 6-foot-2 Dani Short playing the middle and 6-1 Lewandowski banging around, Villa Maria had few second-chance shots.
The Victors put together a small 6-0 run late in the second quarter but North Catholic responded with a 3-pointer from Pospisil and a layup from Myers to head into halftime with 32-15 lead.
“We tried talking to them (at halftime) about trying to cut into the lead and trying to cut it down to single digits going into the fourth quarter,” Chuzie said.
Myers came back out on the third and added a put back from underneath the glass to spark a 12-4 run that lasted much of the third quarter. North Catholic held Villa Maria to just eight third-quarter points. The Trojanettes closed out the third quarter leading 50-23.
“Doug (Chuzie) knows every single one of our offenses,” Rottmann said. “He will play them and set up even before they happen.”
North Catholic went to the bench for much of the fourth quarter. Villa Maria senior Addisyn Cross connected on a 3-pointer early in the final quarter but the Holy Cross recruit was largely ineffective for most of the game finishing with seven points.
“Our girls were excited from the get go about the game,” Rottmann said. “Tonight we played really well.”
William Whalen is a freelance writer.
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