NA Rallies From 8-Point Deficit For Win In PIAA 2nd Round
The North Allegheny Tigers roared back from an eight-point deficit in the second half for a thrilling 56-52 triumph over the Mt. Lebanon Blue Devils in the second round of the Class 6A PIAA playoffs. The win is North Allegheny’s 16th in a row and sets a new program best for most victories in a season at 26 on the campaign. The Tigers advance to the PIAA quarterfinals for the fourth consecutive season where they’ll face the Penn Hills Indians on Saturday.
Thursday night’s tussle between North Allegheny and Mt. Lebanon was a rematch of a WPIAL semifinal game that the Tigers won handily, 61-44, on February 28. In that contest, the Tigers shot 50-percent from the field and were red hot from the perimeter. Determined to create a different outcome in this meeting, Mt. Lebanon employed a 3-2 zone defense to limit the Tigers to 29-percent shooting in the first half.
With the NA shooters hampered, Mt. Lebanon used a 9-0 run to start the second quarter and grabbed a 21-15 lead. Seniors Kenzee Bushee and Kate Srmac, who were held in check in the previous meeting, spearheaded an attack that helped Mt. Lebanon expand the lead to eight points, 41-33, with 28 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Bushee finished with a game-high 20 points and Srmac tallied 12 points and four assists.
While the Blue Devils’ zone flustered NA in the first half, the Tigers adjusted in the second half and knocked down 48-percent from the field to spark a comeback. Another contributing factor was North Allegheny’s ability to crash the offensive glass, outrebounding Mt. Lebanon, 12-6, on offensive boards. Junior Madelyn Fischer was a key figure with seven offensive rebounds, and eight total boards, to go along with 13 points. For her efforts, Fischer was name the Wright Automotive Player of the Game.
Providing a major lift to NA’s comeback, Fischer converted an old fashioned 3-point play to put the Tigers on top, 49-48,with about five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. The Tigers added on to the lead courtesy of the determined guard play of sophomore Rachel Martindale. Held without a point in the first half, Martindale netted 10 points in the second half and contributed several athletic steals on defense to turn the tables on Mt. Lebanon. Along with Martindale, the steady play of senior Hailey Zeise helped NA seize control and fend off the pesky Blue Devils for the 56-52 victory. Zeise totaled a team-high 15 points and hauled in five rebounds.
With the win, North Allegheny improves to 26-1 overall, while Mt. Lebanon’s season ends with a record of 19-7. The Tigers advance to face the Penn Hills Indians on Saturday. The game will be broadcast live via the internet on the North Allegheny Sports Network.
Girls Basketball vs. Mt. Lebanon, 3-16-17
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