It was the battle of the elevens Saturday afternoon in the WPIAL Class 4A championship. Blackhawk’s Alena Fusetti and North Catholic’s Alayna Rocco, a pair of 11th graders who both wear No. 11, went toe-to-toe.
Rocco’s Trojanettes were the ones who lifted the trophy after 32 minutes of action at Petersen Events Center.
North Catholic led wire-to-wire after winning the opening tip and getting the opening score on a floater from Rocco. The Trojanettes won 51-35 to claim their record 22nd WPIAL title.
“We had great preparation for this game,” senior Dacia Lewandowski said. “We scouted them and watched a lot of film. Our defense really excelled because of our communication. We communicated through everything. As soon as their coach would call out a set, we all had somewhat of an idea what was going on. We put a lot of emphasis on the defensive end and then it translates to offense.”
A move up in classification could not slow the Trojanettes, who won the 3A crown last year. They now have five Class 4A WPIAL titles. North Catholic has won six titles in the past seven years. Coach Molly Rottmann has won 11 titles, tying her with her mentor Don Barth for most all-time.
“Coach is the type of coach that values all of us,” junior Ava Walker said. “She puts us in positions that we are going to do great and excel. It showed out on the court today. She put us in positions that we needed to be in to win. And we won.”
Blackhawk was looking to repeat as Class 4A champions but could not get production outside of Fusetti, who finished with a team-high 13 points, and freshman Aubree Hupp, who added 12.
The Cougars were without their leading scorer, senior Quinn Borroni, a Mercyhurst recruit who tore her Achilles in a scrimmage prior to the postseason.
“I know she wants to be out there,” Blackhawk coach Steve Lodovico said. “We are different without Quinn. That’s no secret. A four-year starter. One of the go-to girls on our team. My heart breaks for her.”
Added Rottmann: “She’s a great player. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.”
Rocco, a Harvard recruit, finished with a game-high 16 points, 2 steals and 6 rebounds.
“I was definitely looking to be confident with my shot.” Rocco said. “A few games ago, I was kind of off. You don’t want to get in your head, so I definitely was more confident in it today. My teammates getting me the ball and helping me get open and knock down those wide open threes, that helped a lot.”
Rocco was 7 of 12 from the field and 2 of 3 on 3-pointers.
The North Catholic defense never let up. It forced 17 turnovers. The team totaled 11 steals, led by senior Anna Waskiewicz with four.
“We talked about that: communicate early and often,” Rottmann said. “Make sure that she [Alena Fusetti] didn’t end up loose or [senior guard Kassie] Potts didn’t end up loose. We did a great job.”
North Catholic held Blackhawk to 2 of 14 from the 3-point line.
Walker was second on the team with 13 points, adding 7 rebounds and 2 assists. She was 2 of 4 from three. Lewandowski contributed 8 points, 5 rebounds and 2 steals. Senior Tori Drevna scored 8 and added 3 rebounds and 3 assists.
The Trojanettes know the job is not done, as their attention turns to the state tournament.
“This is a smart, veteran group of basketball players,” Rottmann said. “In our season and in the offseason, they are playing against high-level competition all the time.”