With her team trailing by one point in the closing seconds Wednesday, Oakland Catholic star Alexa Washington threw an errant pass intended for teammate London Creach that went out of bounds.
‘I was like, ‘Oh great, I just lost us the game,’” Washington recalled.
But Washington ended up getting an opportunity to redeem herself. What she did next didn’t cost her team the game, but rather she helped it keep its season alive after slipping past an opponent that came into the game without a loss.
Washington’s steal and layup with six seconds left gave Oakland Catholic a 48-47 win against Hollidaysburg in a PIAA Class 5A second-round game at Armstrong.
Oakland Catholic (24-4), the WPIAL runner-up, advanced to the PIAA quarterfinals for the fifth time in seven years and will face McKeesport for the fourth time this season after defeating the Tigers in each of the first three meetings. District 6 champion Hollidaysburg, one of only two girls teams to take a perfect record into the state playoffs, finished 24-1.
“I didn’t want to lose in the second round of the state playoffs again like last year,” said Washington, a senior guard and North Florida recruit. “I think I’m a [defensive back] sometimes and just went out and got the steal.”
So, that’s what Washington did. But before Washington made what she called the biggest shot of her career, Oakland Catholic coughed up an 11-point second-half lead. The Eagles led, 38-29, going into the fourth quarter before Hollidaysburg rallied. Hollidaysburg took a one-point lead via an and-one with 13 seconds left. Washington then turned it over, but the Eagles then forced consecutive turnovers via their diamond-and-one press. The first led to Washington’s bucket and the second ended the game without Hollidaysburg getting off a final shot.
“They went out and played hard,” first-year Oakland Catholic coach Eddie Benton said of his team. “One thing about this time of year is, it doesn’t matter how you get it done, just get it done. We didn’t play well for any stretch, but we got it done.”
Creach scored 15 points and Washington added 14 for Oakland Cahtolic, while Sydney Lear paced Hollidaysburg with 19.
Other Class 5A
• Ava Leroux’s 21 points propelled WPIAL champion South Fayette (26-2) to a 69-49 win against District 3 third-place finisher Mechanicsburg (20-8) at Altoona. Maddie Webber and Lainey Yater added 10 points apiece for the Lions, who led by 26 points at the half and advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2017. The Lions next will take on District 10 champion and perennial power Cathedral Prep.
• Malina Boord knocked down a school-record nine 3-pointers among her 29 points to lead WPIAL third-place McKeesport (23-5) to a 63-25 mercy-rule win against WPIAL seventh-place Penn-Trafford (18-10) at Norwin. Boord connected on seven of her 3s in the first half when McKeesport built a 43-15 lead. Rachel Manfredo added 12 points for McKeesport, which made 13 3-pointers overall. Lilly Palladino led Penn-Trafford with seven points. McKeesport had defeated the Warriors by margins of 24 and 15 points in the regular season.
• District 10 champion Cathedral Prep (23-1) had little difficulty defeating Mars (18-9), 51-24, at Sharon. Cathedral Prep held a 17-2 lead after one quarter and a 28-4 advantage at the half. Lena Walz led the Ramblers with 17 points, standout junior Jayden McBride had 16, and Addie Biel chipped in 12.
• WPIAL champion North Catholic (24-3) rolled into the quarterfinals for the eighth time in nine years by defeating District 10 runner-up Harbor Creek (20-7), 51-34, at Westminster College. The Trojans held a 16-7 lead after one quarter and led the rest of the way. Alayna Rocco paced North Catholic with four 3-pointers and 15 points, while Dacia Lewandowski added 14 points. Brooke Przybylski scored a team-high 14 points for Harbor Creek.
• Freshman Aubree Hupp scored a game-high 20 points to help WPIAL runner-up Blackhawk (23-4) rally for a 38-35 win against WPIAL fifth-place finisher Knoch (18-10) at Hampton. Blackhawk outscored Knoch, 8-3, in the fourth quarter. Kassie Potts added 10 points for Blackhawk, which will play in the quarterfinals for the second year in a row. Nina Shaw paced Knoch with 13 points. Blackhawk was 15 of 21 from the free-throw line and Knoch was 9 of 13.
• Kelly Cleaver scored 14 points and Kylie Fruehstorfer scored all 13 of her points in the second half to help WPIAL champion Union (20-6) rally to defeat District 9 runner-up Elk County Catholic (24-5), 39-35, at Clarion University. Union trailed by as many as 12 points before using a big run in the fourth quarter to go ahead. Union outscored the Crusaders, 20-10, in the fourth quarter. The Scotties beat Elk County Catholic, 38-35, in the 2022 second round.
• Four days after capturing the first PIAA win in program history, WPIAL runner-up Aquinas Academy (17-10) saw its season end after a 49-35 loss to District 5 champion Berlin Brothersvalley (22-5) at Norwin. Berlin Brothersvalley led by four points at the half before outscoring Aquinas Academy, 23-13, in the second half. Gracyn Sechler led Berlin Brothersvalley with a game-high 19 points.
Class 5A second round
Archbishop Wood 42, Malvern Villa Maria 29
Bethlehem Catholic 34, Gwynedd Mercy 24
Bishop Shanahan 69, Scranton Prep 57
Cathedral Prep 51, Mars 24
McKeesport 63, Penn-Trafford 25
Oakland Catholic 48, Hollidaysburg 47
South Fayette 69, Mechanicsburg 29
West Chester Rustin 49, Abington Heights 46
Class 4A second round
Allentown Central Catholic 51, Delone Catholic 37
Blackhawk 38, Knoch 35
Camp Hill Trinity 67, Audenried 50
Fairview 51, Penn Cambria 51 (OT)
Lansdale Catholic 79, Jersey Shore 42
North Catholic 51, Harbor Creek 34
Scranton Prep 51, Nazareth Academy 47 (OT)
Wyomissing 40, Neumann-Goretti 33
Class 1A second round
Berlin Brothersvalley 49, Aquinas Academy 35
Lourdes Regional 55, Shade 34
Meadowbrook Christian 40, Linville Hill 24
Mountain View 41, Christian School of York 26
Otto-Eldred 49, Bishop Guilfoyle 37
St. John Neumann 40, The Christian Academy 37
Union 39, Elk County Catholic 35
Williamsburg 48, DuBois Central Catholic 45
Brad is a sports writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at email@example.com.