Top-ranked Bethel Park pulls away to beat Mt. Lebanon in 6A showdown

Thursday, December 19, 2019 | 11:25 PM

Top-ranked Bethel Park showed a strong kick at the end of each half to pull away from Mt. Lebanon and remain undefeated.

Maddie Dziezgowski led all scorers with 21 points as the Black Hawks improved to 3-0 atop Section 2-6A with a 65-52 win over the visiting Blue Devils.

“This game is always going to be a battle,” Bethel Park coach Jonna Burke said. “I told our kids at halftime that this is going to be a dogfight until the buzzer.”

Bethel Park led 12-9 after a sloppy first quarter in which both teams struggled to score. The game remained tight until the final couple of minutes of the second quarter when the Black Hawks took control.

Bethel Park scored 12 of the final 14 points in the quarter to take a 30-17 lead into the locker room.

“Having a 13-point halftime lead, to be honest, I was a little nervous,” Burke said. “Sometimes when you have a lead like that, kids tend to think, ‘OK, we got this.’

“They made their run, and we looked like a deer in the headlights.”

Mt. Lebanon got aggressive offensively in the third quarter and it paid off with a pair of conventional three-pointers 35 seconds in to cut the deficit to seven points.

The Blue Devils continued to chip away and keep it close with strong inside play by a pair of sophomores in Ashleigh Connor and Reagan Murdoch.

The strong third quarter left Mt. Lebanon trailing 43-39 heading into the fourth quarter.

The closest the Blue Devils would get was down 48-46 early in the fourth quarter when Bethel Park started to take control thanks in part to some key buckets from senior Mallory Locke off the bench.

“A kid off the bench for us, Mallory Locke, was huge,” Burke said. “I’m so happy for her because she’s a senior, and she really wants to be out there, and she really took advantage of the time she got tonight.”

Unlike the third quarter, Bethel Park was able to score any time Mt. Lebanon tried to rally in the fourth.

“Bethel Park is an excellent team,” Mt. Lebanon coach Dori Oldaker said. “Every time we went on a run, they had answers with big shots.”

Another player stepping up late was Bethel Park junior Olivia Westphal. She struggled offensively through the first half, but got hot in the second half and scored on three straight possessions at one point.

“She’s going to take the shots she’s going to take,” Burke said. “I thought the shots she took were pretty smart shots, but she came up big when she needed to. She played through it and she stepped up.”

Both Connor and sophomore Brooke Collins fouled out for Mt. Lebanon, which dropped to 2-1 in the section. The loss ended a four-game win streak.

“I was proud of how hard our team battled and didn’t give up,” Oldaker said.

This was the second game for Bethel Park without sophomore Emma Dziezgowski. The starting guard tore her ACL in a game last Friday in Springfield, Va.

“We talked about it before the game,” Burke said. “All the (players) who are in the game have to contribute more than you did before and (Lauren) Mullen answered that call tonight.”

Westphal ended up with 18 points and Mullen added 17 for a Bethel Park team that improves to 6-0 overall.

Connor led the Blue Devils with 18 points while junior Morgan Palmer had 12 and Murdoch 11 points.

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