WPIAL Girls Basketball Player of the Week — Week ending March 15
Monday, March 16, 2020 | 6:45 PM
In the WPIAL Class 3A girls basketball championship game, Beaver struggled mightily on offense and fell to rival Mohawk, 44-26.
In two state playoff games, the Bobcats appear to have found their touch thanks to the scoring of a standout sophomore.
Payton List had a game-high 21 points as the Bobcats advanced to the PIAA quarterfinals with a 48-36 triumph over Penn Cambria before the tournament was put on hold.
“(List) had a great game attacking the basket,” Beaver coach Greg Huston said. “She’s just so big and strong and without her drives, we would have been in trouble. She was creating all of our half-court offense which was huge.”
List is listed at 5-foot-11 and can be used as a guard on the perimeter and as a forward on the blocks.
“She’s a tremendous athlete,” Huston said. “She’s big, strong, fluid and really just starting to scratch the surface of how good she can be. Her shot has improved so much this year, so she’s added that extra 3-point shooting dimension to her game to compliment her inside presence.”
While junior Emma Pavelek has led the Bobcats in scoring this season, including 21 points in a first-round state playoff victory over Sewickley Academy, List has developed in her second year to be a threat on both sides of the floor.
“Her scoring is way up this year, and she’s a threat from anywhere on the court,” Huston said of List. “She also uses her length on defense to create a ton of turnovers at the top of our zones. She influences the game so much on both ends.”
Another aspect List has developed is slowly becoming a team leader.
“She has a natural energy and presence that other kids gravitate to, even now,” Huston said. “That’ll only continue next year, and I expect her leadership to continue to grow next year.”
The Bobcats are 23-4 and tied for the section title. They reached the WPIAL finals for the second time in three years and now it’s on to the quarterfinals if the PIAA playoff resume.
We really can’t do anything for two weeks,” Huston said. All activities are canceled, so the kids are on their own. It’s a unique situation and it’s disappointing, because we have put in a ton of work and effort into this season and felt good about our chances in this tourney. But we also understand that what we’re doing is a game and people’s lives could be at stake here, so we respect the decisions of our leaders.”
Huston was asked if it was easier bouncing back from this WPIAL title-game loss as compared to the heartbreaking loss on a last-second shot by North Catholic in the 2018 finals?
“Losing in the championship game is never easy, and this was no exception. But it was a little easier than last time since we felt like we had earned that win against North Catholic. Mohawk whopped us and they deserved the win that day based on their performance. That’s a little easier to swallow.”
If the tournament resumes, the Bobcats would need to clear one more hurdle before a possible fourth meeting against Mohawk as Beaver is schedule to play District 6 runner-up Tyrone.
“They are a really nice team with some good athletes and shooters,” Huston said. “They play a tough man-to-man ‘D’ and are very disciplined. I think it would’ve been or could be a great game if we get to play them. “
Olivia Westphal, Bethel Park
In the PIAA first round, Bethel Park struggled on offense, scoring only five points in the first quarter and 13 points in the first half in what would be an 18-point win over Governor Mifflin. Scoring was not an issue in the second round, especially from Westphal, a junior who scored 23 points in the Black Hawks’ seven-point victory over Upper Dublin.
Natalie Graf, Ellis School
If your first name is Natalie and you play for the Ellis School, odds are pretty good you can score. While teammate Natalie Jasper has been one of the top scorers in WPIAL girls basketball all season, senior Graf stepped up in Round 2 of the state playoffs as she scored 25 points in the Tigers’ 12-point win over 2A District 5 champion Everett.
Alexis Robison, Rochester
Rochester has captured back-to-back WPIAL Class A championships and continues to play like a team that could contend for gold no matter what classification. Super sophomore Corynne Hauser led the way in the opening round of the state playoffs, and Robison, a junior, poured in 25 points in the second round in the Rams’ 20-point win over District 5 runner-up Tussey Mountain.
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