Lebo whips up win against CV
Lebo picks up key win against CV
A recipe for disaster. Chartiers Valley presented those ingredients for Mt. Lebanon, which was fresh off a huge victory over then undefeated Bethel Park in Section 4-AAA girls’ basketball. Yet, the Lebo ladies, like seasoned bread bakers, rose to the occasion Jan. 31 and punched down the relentless Colts, 49-40.
“This was a tough hill to climb,” said Lebo floor boss Dori Oldaker. “We had to get back to it immediately after winning a big game against Bethel Park. We could have let down. I’m so proud of our kids. This was a good win on the road.
“That’s particularly important,” she continued, “because in the playoffs, all the games are on the road.”
And, many of the teams the Blue Devils will face during the post-season, which begins after the steering committee meets Feb. 12 to decide pairings and brackets for the WPIAL tournament, will be of the caliber of the Hawks and Colts. Both are ranked among the top five teams in Quad A behind the No. 1-rated Blue Devils.
All reside in the same section. Currently, Lebo is tied with BP for first place in the section with 9-1 records while CV slipped to 8-2 with a visit to the Hawks’ nest scheduled Mon., Feb. 4. While BP is 17-2 and CV is 14-5, Lebo improved to 18-2 overall.
“That’s a quality team,” said CV skipper Spencer Stefko after the loss to Lebo. “We are a good team but they were better than us, particularly in important parts of the game. We’ve got to get better.”
The Colts, who lost at Lebo by only three points, 48-45, back on Jan. 7, seemed not to have gotten better against the Blue Devils’ stifling defense as they fell behind, 34-17, after two quick buckets by Alex Ventrone and Jordan Holmes to start the second half. They trailed, 10-8, after one frame before Lebo exploded for 20 points in the second stanza.
Yet, CV managed to shoot its way back into the fray. Three, 3-pointers – a pair by Jenna Devinney and one by Cassidy O’Keefe – coupled by buckets from Alexa Golden and Kristina Coyne cut Lebo’s margin to 36-30.
Again, Lebo used a quick jab to deflate the Lady Colts. At the start of the final frame, Holmes and Ehland scored hoops and Ventrone initiated a run at the free throw line, stretching Lebo’s margin to 41-30.
Odaker noted the fourth-quarter start was pivotal. “It was the key. We had to come out strong,” she said. “We talked about finishing. Starting out strong and finishing strong.”
While not as sharp as they were against Bethel Park at the line, the Blue Devils sealed the victory in part by connecting on nine of 14 free throws in the fourth frame. Margie McCaffrey capitalized on five of six attempts.
While CV managed to narrow the gap to six points, twice in the final frame on treys by Devinney and O’Keefe, the Colts could draw no nearer.
“You can’t spot a great team that big a lead,” Stefko sighed. “It’s still a loss. I don’t like to lose. Neither do my girls. We’ll take a lesson from it. And, I have girls who want to learn.”
In the first frame and throughout their comeback, the Lady Colts learned they deserved to be on the same court as the Blue Devils, who had won three state titles between 2009-11 and last year’s WPIAL title.
“We know we can play with them,” said Stefko. “Playing with them and beating them are two different things.
“In section, the first time you play a team, it’s important. The second time, it’s more important. The third time is even more important than that,” said Stefko, who knows the next meeting would only occur in either the WPIAL or PIAA tournaments with district and state titles the ultimate ramification. “We hope we get a chance to see them again.”
The Lebo ladies know that possibility could happen. In 2008, it did. When they advanced to the state finals, they played rivals Upper St. Clair and Peters Township in the post-season after facing them in section play. In fact, USC beat PT for that year’s WPIAL title.
“That’s a quality team,” Oldaker said of the Colts. “You can’t take them or anybody lightly. You have to be ready to play.”
When it mattered most, the Lebo ladies were prepared. From their well-stocked kitchen, they mixed Holmes’ 16 points, Madeline Collins’ 11 markers and Ventrone’s 10 tallies. Next, they tossed in the contributions from Christine Ehland (4), McCaffrey (6) and Amanda Frosztega (2). Then they added a pinch of Anna Miller off the bench to whip up a winner.
For the Colts, Golden was tops with 13 points. O’Keefe and DeVinney finished with nine each. Mariah Wells contributed seven points.