The school with the most WPIAL girls basketball championships won another Saturday.

Alayna Rocco scored a game-high 26 points, including 17 of her team’s final 19, to help No. 2-seeded North Catholic rally from five points down after three quarters to defeat No. 1 Blackhawk, 40-37, in overtime in the Class 4A final at Pitt’s Petersen Events Center.

It was a championship three-peat for North Catholic (17-7), which won a record 23rd title while defeating Blackhawk (22-3) in the final for the second year in a row. 

Blackhawk, which had won 16 games in a row, held a 26-21 lead going into the fourth quarter Saturday before Rocco took her game to another level. A 5-foot-11 senior guard and Harvard recruit, Rocco scored 11 of North Catholic’s 13 points in the final quarter to send the game to overtime tied, 34-34. 

It was more of the same in overtime, with Rocco accounting for all 6 of North Catholic’s points. She scored on a jumper and driving layup before making two free throws, the final of which gave the Trojanettes a 40-37 advantage with 23 seconds left. After a timeout, Blackhawk inbounded with 11 seconds left. The Cougars got the ball to Aubree Hupp, whose 3-point attempt with two seconds left was blocked by Rocco. North Catholic rebounded, but Hupp stole a pass. Her final desperation shot was off the mark.

Rocco, who averages 19 points per game, finished 9 of 23 from the field and 7 of 8 from the free-throw line. She was the only player to score in double figures for the Trojanettes, who also got 7 points from Brady Wehner. Wehner is a terrific 3-point shooter who made six 3s in a quarterfinal win against Central Valley, and her presence helped create opportunities for Rocco.

“The game plan was to try to take [Rocco] out. That’s really what we were trying to do,” said first-year Blackhawk coach Greg Huston, who guided Beaver to a WPIAL title in 2021. “You’ve got to be aware of the 3-pointer. We really didn’t want Wehner shooting 3s, so we really weren’t helping much off her. Rocco was able to exploit that a little bit.”

Added Rocco, “They were helping on Brady, so we were trying to open up a gap for me to drive and it worked very well. Just that open gap really helped.”

What also helped was North Catholic’s outstanding defense. The Trojanettes limited Blackhawk to 11-of-46 shooting (23%) and the 37 points scored by the Cougars tied for their second-fewest total of the season. Blackhawk’s top two players, Alena Fusetti and Hupp, scored 11 and 10 points, respectively. Fusetti, a Mercyhurst recruit, finished 3 of 12 from the field, while Hupp 3 of 13.

“Sarah [Loughry] did an amazing job on Fusetti. Alayna did an amazing job on Hupp. Those are two really hard kids to defend, and then everyone else’s role and understanding who to help off of, who were the outside shooters. They were focused and I think that was a huge part of today,” North Catholic coach Molly Rottmann said.

Blackhawk’s Alena Fusetti makes a move against North Catholic in the WPIAL Class 4A championship Saturday at Pitt’s Petersen Events Center. Fusetti scored a team-high 11 points in a 40-37 overtime loss. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

It was the 12th WPIAL title for Rottmann, who surpassed her coach at North Catholic, the late Don Barth, for most in WPIAL history. 

“He’s iconic to me, so in my own mind I’m never going to pass Mr. Barth, because he was the best ever out there,” Rottmann said. “So just to have your name linked with his is a pretty big compliment. And literally, I’m going to call Mrs. Barth. I want to do this to make him proud. That’s really my motivation. And these kids have worked hard. It’s all about them. I just try to make Mr. Barth proud.”

Both teams next will prepare for the PIAA playoffs, which begin next week.

“It’s a frustrating ending,” Huston said. “Give North Catholic credit. They played well. They did a nice job defensively. And I really think that was the difference in the game. They beat us up pretty well. They took away a lot of things we were trying to do. And unfortunately we came up a little short.”

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

Brad Everett

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