Slow start for Bethel Park, but strong finish lifts Black Hawks to PIAA 2nd round

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Friday, March 6, 2020 | 11:36 PM


While Peters Township was not exactly the most neutral site for a PIAA Class 6A girls basketball first-round game between Bethel Park and Governor Mifflin, the rims more than neutralized both offenses in the first half.

Bethel Park trailed Governor Mifflin by two points in a low-scoring first half, but turned things around in the second half to pull away for a 46-28 win.

The Black Hawks (22-3) traveled 7. 5 miles to get to their first-round sight, and the Mustangs (22-6) spent five hours on the road while traveling 265 miles to Peters Township.

Yet, it took the WPIAL runner-up nearly the entire first quarter before they scored. Governor Mifflin led, 8-4, after the first.

“I always think this first state game is always the most difficult because you have that break, and especially if you make it to the WPIAL championship game, there is such a buildup in our area for that district championship,” Bethel Park coach Jonna Burke said. “I think it’s a bit of a hangover situation, and we’ve talked about it a lot. But I think you just have to get out there and play.”

Scoring did not improve much in the second quarter as the combination of tight defense and poor shooting led to 28 first-half points.

Governor Mifflin senior Gina Fiore hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to put the Mustangs up 15-13 at the break.

“Two-point game at halftime, and we only gave up 15 points and we’re thinking, what can we do better defensively?” Burke said. “It really was a matter of getting more possessions because they were slowing it down so much.”

Bethel Park picked up the tempo in the second half, and the offense clicked. The Black Hawks took the lead for good when junior Olivia Westphal scored her first points of the game. She ended up with 13 points.

“We came out in a full-court press a little more and went straight man,” Burke said. “We were using a little bit of a zone in the first half, and they were being too patient. They did speed up and shot the ball quicker than they wanted to, which enabled us to get some runs outs and loosen up a little bit.”

The aggressive style of the Black Hawks also paid off at the free-throw line in the second half. After shooting only six free throws in the first two quarters, Bethel Park went to the line 18 times, hitting 15.

For the game, Bethel Park was 21 of 24 from the line. Governor Mifflin finished 2 of 6.

Senior Lauren Mullen rebounded from a tough first half to lead Bethel Park with 16 points, including a pair of 3-pointers.

“Mullen plays like that often,” Burke said. “She’s a shooter. She doesn’t care if she misses two shots because she’ll keep shooting and make the next two. I wasn’t concerned because she’s been coming up big like that later in games all season.”

Senior Madelyn Dziezgowski added 11 points for the Black Hawks.

Fiore led Governor Mifflin with 10 points.

Bethel Park advances to the PIAA second round Tuesday against Upper Dublin (District 1).

“Unfortunately, we’ve had several games like this and I don’t know if that’s the kind of team we are, start slow and finish strong,” Burke said. “Now at this stage of the game, you have to play strong the whole game or you are going to go home.”

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