After claiming last year’s WPIAL Class 3A title and returning both of its all-section standouts along with several key role players, expectations were higher than ever at Avonworth going into this season — and with good reason.

So far, everything seems to be going as expected for the surging Antelopes (10-1, 3-0), who picked up a pivotal 57-38 victory in a Class 3A Section 2 showdown against visiting Keystone Oaks (9-3, 1-2) on Monday night. Both teams were seeking their 10th win of the season, but it was Avonworth that gained an early leg up in what appears to be a loaded race for the section crown.

“We knew coming in that they were going to be a tough opponent,” said Lopes coach Nick Dizon. “I know we won by 19, but the game felt closer than that. They shot the ball really well. They’re tough. They don’t back down. We knew we had to bring it today.”

Senior forward Becca Goetz led all scorers with 21 points on the night, and her all-section counterpart, junior guard Greta O’Brien (20 points) wasn’t far behind. One of the WPIAL’s top tandems, the presence of the prolific pair makes life easy on the rest of Avonworth’s supporting cast. And with Goetz and O’Brien receiving the bulk of the attention from opposing defenses, Dizon has been thrilled with the contributions the Lopes have received throughout the lineup.

“I feel like we’re getting a lot out of our players, whether it’s offense or defense,” Dizon said. “Our studs have done a great job of leading us, but our supporting cast has stepped up, too. We’ve been doing a good job playing team basketball to this point, and I think that’s a big reason for our success.”

The only slip-up for Avonworth this season came in a 66-50 defeat against Armstrong, a talented team with playoff aspirations in Class 5A. Although the Lopes are a competitive bunch who went into that game expecting to win, Dizon said his players learned valuable lessons from that loss, and he believes the late-December defeat will only serve to help his team in the long run — especially come late February and March.

“We try to learn from losses, and that was a great game to learn from, but at the same time, we were disappointed,” Dizon said. “My kids have done a great job of just focusing on the task at hand. If you want to get to those places, you have to take care of business today.”

Serra Catholic’s Bri Battles looks to the basket against Clairton on Monday, Jan. 8, 2024 at Clairton High School. Serra Catholic handed Clairton its first loss of the season, 85-48. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Other girls games

• Niki Sfanos helped Serra Catholic (8-2, 3-1) hand Clairton its first loss of the season in one-sided fashion, cruising to a 23-point halftime lead en route to an 85-48 road win in Class 2A Section 3. Sfanos knocked down five 3-pointers while scoring a team-high 27 points, and Bri Battles and Abby Genes tacked on 15 points apiece for the Eagles to go with 14 from Cate Clarke. Averaging a WPIAL-leading 39 ppg for the Bears (9-1, 3-1), junior Iyanna Wade fell just short of her season average with a game-high 37 points in the defeat.

• One of only three unbeaten teams remaining in the WPIAL, Lincoln Park (12-0, 3-0) rallied from a five-point deficit heading into the fourth quarter for a come-from-behind, 48-46 win in a back-and-forth affair against visiting Moon (7-4, 0-3).

Trinity (10-1, 3-0) rallied from a first-quarter deficit to take a seven-point halftime lead and never looked back, pulling away from West Allegheny for a 63-41 home win in Class 5A Section 4. Macie Justice led the Hillers with 12 points in their ninth consecutive victory, and freshman Emma Ruperto also finished with 12 to lead the Indians (5-7, 0-3) in the loss.

• Lilah Turnbull tallied a team-leading 14 points for Chartiers Valley (10-1, 4-0) to help the Colts secure their seventh consecutive win with a 44-36 triumph in a Class 6A Section 2 clash at Upper St. Clair (7-7, 1-3). Meredith Huzjak led all scorers with 15 points for the Panthers to go with 11 from Liv Terlecki.

• Kyla Fitzgerald scored a team-leading 14 points for Armstrong (8-4, 3-2) to go with 11 apiece from Emma Paul and Marlo Mellish, helping the River Hawks overcome a 24-point effort by Hampton‘s Meghan Murray on their way to a 55-47 win against the visiting Talbots (6-6, 2-2) in Class 5A Section 2.

• Megan Marston led the way with a game-high 20 points for Plum (8-4, 4-0) as the Mustangs built a 14-point halftime lead before surviving a late rally by Penn Hills (3-7, 2-3) for a 59-55 home win in Class 5A Section 1. Cara Crawford led four double-digit scorers for the Indians with 15 points while Hannah Pugliese and Egypt Coleman added 14 apiece.

Blackhawk put on a clinic against Ambridge (2-11, 0-2) on both ends of the floor in a lopsided 79-17 road win in Class 4A Section 2, outscoring the Bridgers, 25-0, in the first quarter on their way to a 53-2 halftime lead. Alena Fusetti scored a game-high 18 points for the Cougars (11-2, 3-0) while Piper Romigh finished with 15 and Aubree Hupp added 12.

• Oumou Thiero scored a game-high 25 points for Quaker Valley (2-9, 2-1), but it came in a losing effort as Hopewell used a dominant third quarter to earn a 49-32 home win in Class 4A Section 2. Avery Boyd and Caylee Sundy scored 14 apiece to lead a balanced attack for the Vikings (6-6, 1-2) along with 10 from Maya Richburg.

• Cali Legzdin led Beaver Falls to a commanding 76-40 win against visiting Laurel in Class 3A Section 1, burying six 3-pointers on her way to a game-high 25 points on the night. Avian Norman added 19 points for the Tigers (8-3, 3-0) to go with 18 from Dreavan Haskins, while Jael Henderson paced the Spartans (2-10, 0-3) with 15 points in the loss.

Clairton’s Keira Brown passes the ball against Serra Catholic on Monday, Jan. 8, 2024 at Clairton High School. Serra handed Clairton its first loss of the season, 85-48. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Three stars

*** — Taelor Spencer, Ellis School. Spencer tallied a game-high 27 points while draining five 3-pointers as Ellis cruised to a 57-23 home win against Steel Valley in Class 2A Section 3.

** — Lydia Betz, North Allegheny. One of the top scorers in Class 6A, Betz was at her best for the Tigers on Monday, pouring in a game-high 25 points in a 62-43 win at Butler in Class 6A Section 1.

* — Juliette Leroux, South Fayette. Leroux continues to step out of her older sister’s sizable shadow, as the sophomore forward tallied a game-high 25 points in a 69-44 rout at Montour in Class 5A Section 4. Her older sister, Ava, is a freshman forward at Elon who helped the Lions win back-to-back WPIAL titles before graduating last spring, and she recently returned home from the hospital after a life-threatening car accident.

Hot from deep

Players with 3 or more 3-pointers: Addie Lonergan, Seton LaSalle, 8; Cali Legzdin, Beaver Falls, 6; Alayna Rocco, North Catholic, 5; Niki Sfanos, Serra Catholic, 5; Taelor Spencer, Ellis School, 5; Avery Boyd, Hopewell, 4; Nika Contakos, South Park, 4; Greta O’Brien, Avonworth, 3; Bailey Reig, Keystone Oaks, 3.

Serra Catholic’s Abby Genes grabs the ball against Clairton on Monday, Jan. 8, 2024 at Clairton High School. Serra handed Clairton its first loss of the season, 85-48. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Boys scores

Beaver County Christian 64, Propel Montour 48

St. Joseph 39, Hillel Academy 34

Girls scores

Aliquippa 37, Rochester 36

Apollo-Ridge 57, Deer Lakes 36

Armstrong 55, Hampton 47

Avonworth 57, Keystone Oaks 38

Beaver 55, Central Valley 51

Beaver County Christian 70, Propel Montour 37

Beaver Falls 76, Laurel 40

Blackhawk 79, Ambridge 17

Brentwood 42, Carlynton 15

Burgettstown 46, Fort Cherry 29

Burrell 54, Ligonier Valley 37

California 34, Bentworth 26

Chartiers Valley 44, Upper St. Clair 36

Chartiers-Houston 63, Frazier 26

Eden Christian 41, Bishop Canevin 28

Elizabeth Forward 57, River Valley 42

Ellis School 57, Steel Valley 23

Ellwood City 65, Mohawk 46

Geibel Catholic 59, Mapletown 43

Greensburg Salem 43, Knoch 39

Highlands 65, Derry 19

Hopewell 49, Quaker Valley 32

Indiana 54, Franklin Regional 39

Latrobe 65, Albert Gallatin 41

Laurel Highlands 33, Belle Vernon 28

Lincoln Park 48, Moon 46

McGuffey 45, Brownsville 42

McKeesport 53, Thomas Jefferson 40

Neshannock 53, Riverside 21

North Allegheny 62, Butler 43

North Catholic 70, Valley 18

Northgate 54, Sto-Rox 26

Norwin 61, Hempfield 23

Oakland Catholic 59, Penn-Trafford 44

Our Lady of the Sacred Heart 74, East Allegheny 9

Plum 59, Penn Hills 55

Riverview 36, Jeannette 26

Seneca Valley 47, Pine-Richland 41

Serra Catholic 85, Clairton 48

Seton LaSalle 64, South Allegheny 17

Sewickley Academy 51, New Brighton 22

Shady Side Academy 64, Mount Pleasant 20

South Fayette 69, Montour 44

South Park 68, Charleroi 29

South Side 57, Shenango 41

St. Joseph 74, Hillel Academy 8

Trinity 63, West Allegheny 41

Uniontown 70, Ringgold 37

Washington 56, Carmichaels 18

Waynesburg 37, Yough 31

West Mifflin 48, Southmoreland 19

Winchester Thurston 46, Springdale 19

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