Hampton girls coach Tony Howard was well aware of the tall task his team faced heading into Tuesday night — emphasis on “tall.”

The No. 11 seed Talbots traveled to Fox Chapel High School on Tuesday for a WPIAL Class 5A first-round playoff game against No. 6 Indiana, the team featuring the two tallest players in the WPIAL in 6-5 Eve Fiala and 6-4 Katie Kovalchick. Fiala is a Dayton recruit, while Kovalchick will play her college ball at Washington & Jefferson.

Needless to say, Howard’s bunch was outmatched on paper. But lucky for him, Hampton has one X-factor the Little Indians couldn’t match — 5-5 guard Meghan Murray. The ultra-talented junior put on a show while scoring a game-high 21 points and dishing out a handful of key assists to carry the Talbots on her back in a dramatic 45-44 win.

“She makes me look a lot smarter than I am, I can say that for sure,” Howard said with a laugh. “She’s obviously the straw that stirs the drink, and she was great again tonight. … I’m assuming she had a double-double tonight, easily. Setting up teammates and making some great passes to the block, which is huge for us.”

Kovalchick finished with a team-high 15 points for Indiana along with 12 from Fiala, while Claire Rodgers contributed 13 points for Hampton. Rodgers and Sterling Thomson each knocked down a trio of 3-pointers for the Talbots.

“[Rodgers] came out aggressively for us tonight,” Howard said. “She was engaged, and she has all the skill in the world. When she does that, we’re just a much better team.”

The teams entered the final quarter with the score tied at 36 before Hampton managed to scratch out a slim lead. The Talbots missed some free throws late but made a string of big stops on defense to reach the Class 5A quarterfinals. Howard knows his players will have their work cut out for them once again against No. 3 McKeesport.

“We’re expecting a very difficult challenge,” Howard said. “A short turnaround, but I think our girls are excited. I know we’re going to show up and compete and give a great effort.”

Other Class 5A girls

• Malina Boord finished with a game-high 20 points and Brooke Evans chipped in with 13 for No. 3 McKeesport in a dominant 62-29 victory against No. 14 Penn Hills (10-12). Hannah Pugliese led the Indians with 12 points in the season-ending defeat, while the Tigers (19-4) advance to face No. 11 Hampton in Friday’s quarterfinals.

• Eden Williamson led four players in double figures for No. 4 Trinity with 14 points, with Kristina Bozek adding 12 and Macie Justice 11 for the Hillers (16-6) in a 68-61 home win against No. 13 Latrobe (14-9). Trinity overcame a 30-point performance by Josie Straigis to reach the quarterfinal round, where the Hillers will take on No. 12 Woodland Hills on Friday.

• A balanced attack led by 17 points from Carmen Vasquez guided No. 12 Woodland Hills to a 53-48 upset win against No. 5 Armstrong (19-4) on the road. Jhalynn Wilson added 11 and Kayla Walter finished with 10 for the Wolverines (12-11), who secured a quarterfinal matchup against No. 4 Trinity. Emma Paul led all scorers with 19 points for the River Hawks.

• Alexis Cashdollar and Olivia Donnelly each led the way with 17 points apiece for No. 7 Mars in a 56-29 victory against No. 10 Lincoln Park (18-5) at Mt. Lebanon High School. The Planets (16-6) will now face No. 2 Oakland Catholic in Friday’s quarterfinal round. Sarah Scott led the Leopards with 12 points in the defeat.

Class 4A girls

• Nina Shaw scored a game-high 24 points while outscoring No. 12 Hopewell by herself in a 53-21 blowout win for No. 5 Knoch (15-8) against the visiting Vikings (10-13). Megan Vasas added 11 points for the Knights, who held Hopewell to only 13 points through the first three quarters. Knoch will travel to Quaker Valley to face the No. 4 Quakers at 7 p.m. Friday.

• Zoe Ringer and Chloe List tallied 15 points apiece, with all 15 of Ringer’s points coming via the 3-ball, for No. 7 Beaver (14-8) in a lopsided 58-32 home win against No. 10 West Mifflin. Emily Beck and Savaughn Wimbs finished with 11 points each for the Titans (11-10). Lauren Hansen contributed 10 for Beaver, who face No. 2 North Catholic at the Trojanettes’ home gym at 7 p.m. Friday.

Class 2A boys

• Kaden Smith scored a team-leading 19 points to lead No. 14 Clairton (11-12) to a stunning 53-46 victory against No. 3 Fort Cherry, which entered the game riding an 18-game winning streak. Owen Norman led all scorers with 22 points in defeat for the Rangers (20-3). The Bears will take on No. 6 Northgate in Friday’s quarterfinal round.

Bishop Canevin senior standout Shea Champine scored a game-high 26 points as the No. 2 Crusaders (19-4) cruised past No. 15 South Side (8-16) for a 72-46 victory. Brody Almashy led South Side with 16 points. Canevin will face No. 7 Serra Catholic on Friday.

• Owen Dumbroski finished with a game-high 28 points, leading four double-digit scorers for No. 7 Serra Catholic (14-9) in a 79-68 home win against No. 10 Nazareth Prep (9-9). Isiah Petty added 19 while Pete Burke tacked on 12 and Elijah Ward finished with 11 for the Eagles, offsetting a 22-point night for Saints sophomore Will Evans.

Hot from deep

Players with 3 or more 3-pointers: Emma Paul, Armstrong, 5; Zoe Ringer, Beaver, 5; Alexa Washington, Oakland Catholic, 5; Kristina Bozek, Trinity, 3; Lexiann Colaianni, Kiski Area, 3; Macie Justice, Trinity, 3; Claire Rodgers, Hampton, 3; Sterling Thomson, Hampton, 3.

Boys scores

Class 2A first round

Aliquippa 75, Laurel 33

Bishop Canevin 72, South Side 46

Clairton 53, Fort Cherry 46

Eden Christian 66, Burgettstown 43

Greensburg Central Catholic 65, Propel Braddock Hills 45

Northgate 89, Jeannette 65

Serra Catholic 79, Nazareth Prep 68

Shenango 59, Chartiers-Houston 38

Girls scores

Class 5A first round

Hampton 45, Indiana 44

Mars 56, Lincoln Park 29

McKeesport 62, Penn Hills 29

Oakland Catholic 53, Kiski Area 16

Penn-Trafford 29, Shaler 28

South Fayette 72, Plum 29

Trinity 68, Latrobe 61

Woodland Hills 53, Armstrong 48

Class 4A first round

Beaver 58, West Mifflin 32

Belle Vernon 33, Greensburg Salem 27

Highlands 54, Laurel Highlands 34

Knoch 53, Hopewell 21

For WPIAL postseason basketball brackets, results and schedules, go here.

Steve is a sports writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at srotstein@unionprogress.com.

Steve Rotstein

Steve is a sports writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at srotstein@unionprogress.com.