Westphal nets 27 points as No. 3 Bethel Park girls top rival Mt. Lebanon

Thursday, January 24, 2019 | 10:36 PM

Olivia Westphal’s often-lethal 3-point shot wasn’t falling, and she picked up a pair of first-half fouls on drives to the basket.

So the Bethel Park standout sophomore shifted her approach to what her coach calls a lost art — the mid-range game.

Westphal delivered there as she scored 16 of her game-high 27 points in the second half as the WPIAL No. 3 Black Hawks defeated visiting Mt. Lebanon, 58-35, in Section 2-6A action Thursday at Bethel Park High School.

“I love the mid-range (game),” Westphal said. “I was trying to drive at the beginning, and they kept calling charges so we had to switch it up and take the mid-range instead of going in all the way.”

Bethel Park (14-1, 9-1) maintained second place in the Section 2 standings as the Black Hawks won their sixth straight.

Mt. Lebanon (8-9, 7-3) lost for the first time in four games.

The Black Hawks also received 13 points from Maria Cerro and a dozen from Maddie Dziezgowski as they swept the regular-season series from the Blue Devils.

Still, the first half was reminiscent of Bethel Park’s 44-33 victory at Mt. Lebanon in December. On Thursday, the Black Hawks led just 21-17 at the half as Lebo’s tenacious defense prevented the Black Hawks from getting into an offensive flow.

“It was like we were confused, and we weren’t in the right spots where we needed to be,” Bethel Park coach Jonna Burke said. “I credit their defense because it was intense. It was in our face, and they did a lot of switching, which I think confused us a little bit.”

Westphal pulled up for a couple of mid-range jumpers and Cerro got to the rim for a pair of easy baskets in the third quarter as the Black Hawks opened up a 34-24 advantage entering the fourth.

“That’s Maria’s game, trying to get to the hoop, and we needed that from her tonight,” Burke said. “I felt like she stepped up when we needed her to. And then on misses (Dziezgowski) was there crashing to get put-backs or kick it back out for an extra possession.”

Things began to snowball as Bethel Park opened the fourth quarter on a 18-3 run to take a 25-point lead. Westphal picked up several transition baskets as the Black Hawks’ defense suffocated Mt. Lebanon by allowing just six field goals in the second half.

“I thought we were pretty nervous coming in from the half, but then we got a couple steals and that got us going,” Westphal said.

Bethel Park led 13-10 after the opening quarter and 21-17 at the half, before the Black Hawks outscored the Blue Devils, 37-16, in the second.

“We struggled a little bit (in the first half),” Westphal said. “They were in our faces and we couldn’t run our offense. We finally handled the pressure and got in, and got to the hoop and scored.”

Bethel Park also went 17 of 18 from the free throw line, including an 11-for-12 showing in the second half. Lebo was just 2 for 7 from the free throw line.

Ashleigh Connor led Mt. Lebanon with 10 points, while Morgan Palmer and Patrice Smith each added eight for the Blue Devils, who host Baldwin on Monday.

Bethel Park hosts West Allegheny in a nonsection contest Saturday before returning to section play at second-ranked Peters Township on Monday.

Jesse Geleynse is a freelance writer.

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