You won’t find many high schools with on-campus statues honoring former players, but South Fayette might need to make an exception for Maddie Webber after she graduates.

Playing against a talented and hungry Oakland Catholic team for a spot in the Class 5A PIAA championship, the Lions senior superstar once again was at her best Tuesday night when her team needed her most.

A 5-11 senior guard, Webber scored a game-high 24 points, including a silky-smooth clinching 3-pointer with less than two minutes remaining to help secure a dramatic 58-54 win for South Fayette (28-2) at Peters Township High School.

“I’m just super excited. I’m so proud of our team,” Webber said. “We just worked so hard this whole season, and I think we deserve it.”

Webber’s latest masterpiece came only three days after she cemented her legacy with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to knock off District 10 powerhouse Cathedral Prep in a 40-37 PIAA quarterfinal win. The Villanova recruit picked up right where she left off on Tuesday, leading the Lions to their first state championship appearance in program history. South Fayette will take on District 12 champion Archbishop Wood (24-5) at 6 p.m. Saturday at Giant Center in Hershey, Pa.

“It’s been a crazy ride these past few games,” Lions coach Bryan Bennett said. “We knew [Oakland Catholic] was very talented. … We knew we were going to have our hands full tonight.”

Of course, Webber couldn’t do it alone. A 6-3 forward and Elon recruit, Ava Leroux stepped up as Webber’s sidekick with 14 points for the Lions, none bigger than two clutch free throws with 8.8 seconds to play to virtually seal the win. Senior guard Rachel Haver led the Eagles (25-5) with 16 points.

“We’ve faced pressure of tight games at the end [before], so we know how to stay composed,” Leroux said. “This has never been done in the history of South Fayette. We’re just excited that we can be the first. … We want to take it as far as we can.”

After defeating Oakland Catholic in the WPIAL title game, 64-49, many expected South Fayette to handle business again Tuesday night without much issue — especially after the Lions roared to a 15-7 lead midway through the first quarter. Webber took control of the game from the opening tip, scoring six unanswered points in the game’s first two minutes and registering 10 points in the first quarter alone. But the Eagles weren’t going anywhere.

Oakland Catholic received the jolt it needed on a 3-pointer by Halena Hill just before time expired to end the first quarter, cutting South Fayette’s lead to 19-15 going into the second. The Lions responded with a 6-0 run to build a cushion, but the Eagles outplayed them for much of the second quarter while trimming the South Fayette lead to 33-31 going into the break. Haver scored 14 of her 16 points in the first half, seemingly getting to the basket at will to help will her team back into the game.

“Honestly, we didn’t even play our best basketball today, and we lost to arguably the best team in the state by four points,” Oakland Catholic coach Eddie Benton said. “I’m proud of them. We fought the whole way. We gave it everything we had.”

From there, the teams traded momentum swings throughout a back-and-forth third quarter, and the Lions took a narrow 44-42 lead into the fourth. The Eagles tied the game at 49-49 midway through the final quarter, but every time they made a run, South Fayette responded — and through it all, the Lions never let Oakland Catholic take the lead.

First, Leroux made two free throws to put South Fayette back on top, then Webber nailed a pivotal 3-pointer with 1:54 remaining to make it a 54-49 lead for the Lions. Then, with South Fayette clinging to a two-point lead in the final 10 seconds, Leroux calmly stepped to the line and delivered two more free throws to put the game away.

“I could see the kids were a little bit tight [before the game]. … This is the first time for all of us in this moment,” Bennett said. “We’re just excited to be moving on.”

Class 4A

• Playing without standout senior Quinn Borroni for the entire postseason, few would have expected Blackhawk to make it to the Western Region final — and certainly there weren’t many people picking the Cougars (25-4) to make it to Hershey. But that’s exactly where Blackhawk is heading for the first time since 2015 after clinching a trip to “Chocolate Town” with a 45-40 upset win against WPIAL champion North Catholic (25-4) at New Castle High School. Senior point guard Kassie Potts led all scorers with 19 points to go with 17 from breakout freshman Aubree Hupp. Alayna Rocco finished with 17 points for the Trojanettes. The score was tied going into the fourth quarter, but it was the Cougars who pulled away late to avenge a 51-35 WPIAL championship defeat earlier this month. Blackhawk now will face District 12 champion Lansdale Catholic (27-2) at noon Saturday for the PIAA Class 4A championship.

Class 1A

• Despite scoring only nine points in the entire first half, Union (22-6) only trailed by four going into the third quarter, and it didn’t take long for the Scotties to come to life. Kelly Cleaver scored a game-high 15 points to lead Union to a come-from-behind 45-31 victory against Berlin Brothersvalley (23-6) at Hempfield Area High School. The Scotties scored 19 points in the third quarter to take a 28-22 lead, then tallied another 17 points in the fourth to pull away for the win while clinching their first state championship appearance. Union will face District 4 third-place finisher Lourdes Regional, which advanced with a 34-33 win against District 2 champion Mountain View, at noon Friday in the PIAA Class 1A title game.

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

Steve Rotstein

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