South Fayette Edges Trinity for First WPIAL Basketball Title

Saturday, February 27, 2016 | 6:31 PM

No. 1 South Fayette (22-3) returned to the Peterson Events Center for a second consecutive year to the WPIAL Girls AAA Championship Game. This time, however, the Lions would survive a thrilling victory over section rival Trinity (21-4), claiming their first WPIAL basketball title, 59-52. 
In their third meeting of the season, South Fayette would see No. 2 Trinity battle back from a 17-point deficit to one-point game in the final minutes. In section play, South Fayette won both meetings, including a 43-40 game in which the Lions overcame an eight-point halftime deficit. But in this matchup, the Lions did not need to mount a second-half comeback and led by five after the first quarter.
South Fayette senior Autumn Mozick connected on three first half three-pointers to lead the Loins to a double-digit halftime lead that could have been much larger if not for the efforts of Trinity senior center Mary Dunn. Dunn had seven of Trinity’s 11 second-quarter points, most of the coming in the latter part of the second quarter.  The Lions would extend their halftime lead to 37-22 with a 19-11 second quarter margin.
Trinity played inspired basketball in the second half and made a push to cut the Loins lead to seven with a 10-3 run early into the fourth quarter and hung tough with the Lions for the rest of the quarter.  Sierra Kotchman connected on a pair of three-pointers on her way to ten points in the quarter, and the South Fayette lead was 44-38 heading into the fourth quarter.
Trinity opened the fourth quarter with a three-pointer from senior Alayna Cappelli to bring the Hillers within three. An Abby O’Conner’s layup and free throw made the title game a one-point affair with five minutes of basketball left to be played.
With just under four minutes to play, Mozick jumped in front of a Trinity pass and went for a layup to bring South Fayette’s lead back to three, but after the basket tried to steal the inbound pass and committed her fifth foul with 3:51 remaining in the fourth quarter.  Mozick finished with 15 points.
South Fayette turned to senior Emily Anderson for five of the next seven points in the game to lead 55-49, but Trinity responded immediately with Capelli drawing contact and finishing a layup for a three-point play. 
South Fayette led 55-52 with 1:09 to play in regulation.  In the next possession for each team, both sides attempted shots from three and got offensive rebounds but were unable to cash in.  South Fayette turned the ball over with 35 seconds remaining, but Trinity was not able to score and Anderson put the game away with a layup to extend the lead to five.  A basket at the buzzer for the Loins made the final margin 59-52.
Anderson and Kotchman led their respective teams with a game-high 18 points each.  South Fayette Sophomore guard Samantha Kosmacki finished with 12 points, 10 coming in the first half.  Dunn finished with 13 and Capelli added 11 for the Hillers.
Both teams qualified for the PIAA state girls’ basketball AA tournament.  South Fayette will take on Ambridge and Trinity will meet South Park in the PIAA tournament next week.

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