Trib HSSN Girls Basketball Team of the Week for week ending March 14, 2021

Sunday, March 14, 2021 | 8:01 PM

After playing the role of the bridesmaid twice in the last three years, Beaver finally knows what it feels like to be the blushing bride.

It feels perfect.

The Bobcats captured their first WPIAL girls basketball championship by beating section rival Quaker Valley, 45-29, on Friday in the Class 4A title game.

This golden moment comes on the heels of a heartbreaking loss to North Catholic in the 2018 finals and a loss to Mohawk in the 2020 title game.

The icing on the wedding cake is the win keeps Beaver as the lone undefeated district girls basketball team with a 20-0 record.

“I think we did feel some pressure, but it was mainly coming from within,” Beaver coach Greg Huston said. “I think the seniors and I felt the weight of losing in the championship two of the past three years, so we wanted to make sure that that didn’t happen again. However, I do think that pressure was a good thing because it kept us all very focused throughout the year and into the playoffs.”

That focus was on display in the final four Tuesday. The Bobcats clamped down on No. 4 Knoch and came away with a 40-22 semifinals victory.

“As was the case all year, defense was the key to beating Knoch,” Huston said. “They have a bunch of really good players and shooters, and we had to work really hard to keep all of them in check. Holding them to 22 points was maybe the best defensive effort of the season since they came in averaging close to 60 points per game this year. It was a complete team effort on the defensive end, and the defensive rebounding was huge as well.”

That win set the stage for the WPIAL Class 4A championship game and the third matchup of the year between Beaver and Quaker Valley.

The Bobcats swept the Quakers during the regular season, winning by three and six points.

Quaker Valley jumped to a 14-9 lead after the first quarter before the Beaver defense took over. The Bobcats outscored the Quaker, 24-4, over the middle two quarters.

“At the end of the first quarter, we made one tweak to our defense, which was to deny Washington the ball in the high post,” Huston said. “That was a new wrinkle that they had added since the last time we played, and she was exploiting the middle of our defense in that first quarter. That caused us some foul trouble and put points on the board for them. Once we made that adjustment, they struggled to find good looks from the inside and outside. At that point, we were able to build a lead and momentum that carried us into the second half.”

That dominant stretch for the Beaver defense included a shutout in the third quarter as the Bobcats outscored the Quakers, 10-0.

“I didn’t realize it until the quarter was over and the girls were running over to the huddle,” Huston said. “I looked at the scoreboard and was kind of in shock to see that they were still at 19 points. The first thing I said to the girls in the huddle was, ‘We just held them scoreless, so don’t change anything in the fourth quarter.’

“We’ve done that a few times this year, but to do it in a championship game against a team as good as QV was really special.”

While the calling card is defense on Beaver, the offense is led by senior Emma Pavelek. She scored a combined 35 points in the semifinal and championship victories.

“Emma is not perfect, but she is darn near close to it,” Huston said. “She leads with her voice, leads by her actions and anyone who wants to be a successful person at anything would be wise to closely emulate her in just about every way. As a freshman, she started on a really good team but took a backseat to great players like Bella Posset and Sydney Barney. Over the next three years, she was the unquestioned leader of our team ,and while I love the younger girls on our team, I can clearly see how hard it’s going to be to replace not only her production, but also her leadership.”

Beaver was alive through two rounds last year when the PIAA playoffs were suspended because of the covid-19 pandemic.

Now the Bobcats pick up where they left off Saturday as they host a quarterfinals game. Beaver will play the winner of the St. Mary’s-Villa Maria Academy game set for Wednesday.

“I don’t know much about St. Mary’s yet, but we’re very familiar with Villa Maria and know what they are capable of as a program,” Huston said. “Our goal this week is going to focus on getting better as a team and fine-tuning both our offense and defense. No matter who we face, we know they’ll be a good team, so hopefully we can bring our best effort and preparation to the table. We know we’re capable of doing great things, so hopefully we’re ready to bring our best and see where the chips fall.”

2021 Trib HSSN Girls Basketball Team of the Week:

Week 8 – Beaver Falls Tigers

Week 7 – Chartiers-Houston Buccaneers

Week 6 – Oakland Catholic Eagles

Week 5 – Norwin Knights

Week 4 – Upper St. Clair Panthers

Week 3 – Armstrong River Hawks

Week 2 – Mohawk Warriors

Week 1 – Burgettstown Blue Devils


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