Hoping to get on a roll in these PIAA playoffs, Avonworth turned to a few of its role players Tuesday to earn a spot in the quarterfinals for the first time in 14 years.

Eden Schleis scored a career-high 17 points and Sydney Savatt came off the bench to provide a big spark at a crucial time to propel WPIAL runner-up Avonworth to a 59-44 win against District 6 champion Forest Hills in a PIAA Class 3A second-round game at Gateway.

Winners of 18 of its past 19 games, Avonworth (24-2) advanced to the state’s Elite 8 for the first time since reaching the Class 2A semifinals in 2010. The Antelopes have never advanced to the final. They also eliminated Forest Hills (25-4) for the second year in a row after defeating the Rangers, 40-34, in the first round last season.

Rebecca Goetz and Greta O’Brien are 1,000-point career scorers and Avonworth’s biggest stars, and while both performed well Tuesday (O’Brien tallied 17 points and Goetz had 11), some of the Antelopes’ most unheralded players also shined. That included Schleis, a senior guard who connected on five of the team’s 10 3-pointers.

“This was do or die for her,” Avonworth coach Nick Dizon said. “Next game we lose, she’s done. For her to step up and give us a game like that was huge for us.”

Forest Hills took a 16-7 lead on Arissa Britt’s 3-pointer in the opening minute of the second quarter, but Avonworth responded with a 10-0 run to take its first lead, 17-16, on a Schleis 3-pointer with 4:33 left in the frame. Forest Hills would take a 21-19 lead a little later in the quarter before Savatt, a junior forward, was summoned off the bench. Savatt went on to score six of her eight points in the final 2:02 of the half to give the Antelopes a 28-23 advantage.

“Syd is one of our Energizer Bunnies,” Dizon said. “She had a lot of putbacks, second-chance opportunities. She, in my opinion, changed the game. I think if Syd doesn’t come in and do that, I think this is a lot different going into the third quarter.”

Avonworth led by double-digits for most of the second half before Forest Hills cut its deficit to 48-41 with 4:33 left in the game. However, Shleis answered by making her fifth 3-pointer and O’Brien added a basket to push the lead back up to 12.

Britt led Forest Hills with 15 points. Olivia McLeary added 10, but scored only two after the first quarter.

Two wins down, two to go for Avonworth in its quest to reach its first PIAA final. Next up is District 10 champion Mercyhurst Prep in Friday’s quarterfinals.

“One of our big goals is we want to try to do something that’s never done,” Dizon said. “Getting somewhere we haven’t been in 14 or 15 years is a start. We’re happy with it, but we’re not satisfied.”

Avonworth’s Greta O’Brien scored 17 points in her team’s 59-44 win against Forest Hills in a PIAA Class 3A second-round game Tuesday at Gateway. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Other Class 3A

• Mallory Daly scored a game-high 19 points and became Seton LaSalle’s all-time leading scorer, but the Rebels (16-11), the sixth-place qualifier from the WPIAL, fell to District 6 runner-up Westmont Hilltop (21-4), 54-48, at Charleroi. The Rebels trailed, 35-33, after three quarters before being outscored, 19-15, in the fourth. Daly, a senior guard and Buffalo recruit, finished her career with 1,971 points, topping the mark previously held by 1983 graduate and former Olympian Suzie McConnell-Serio. Addie Lonergan added six 3-pointers and 18 points for the Rebels, who were trying to reach the quarterfinals for the first time since 2015.

• Karis Thomas scored 19 points and WPIAL champion Shady Side Academy (26-2) surged into the quarterfinals for the second year in a row following a 62-45 win against District 10 runner-up Northwestern (22-5) at Sharon. It was the 20th win in a row for the Bulldogs, who have held opponents to 50 or fewer points in all of those games. Maggie Spell chipped in 16 points and Cassie Sauer 13. Shady Side led just 13-11 after a quarter before taking a 10-point halftime lead. Makayla Presser-Palmer led Northwestern with 19 points.

• District 10 champion Mercyhurst Prep (23-3) jumped to a 19-point halftime lead before coasting to a 52-31 win against WPIAL third-place finisher Neshannock (19-9) at Sharon. Lily Rowe scored a team-high nine points for Neshannock, which saw its season end in the second round for the second consecutive season. Mercyhurst Prep led, 34-15, at the half. NJIT recruit Olivia Kulyk scored a game-high 22 points for Mercyhurst Prep, which lost to Shady Side Academy in the second round a season ago.

Class 6A

• WPIAL champion Norwin (23-3) rallied from a seven-point halftime deficit to hold off WPIAL fourth-place finisher Chartiers Valley (17-9), 56-47, at Peters Township. It was the 14th win in a row for Norwin, which reached the semifinals last season but has never advanced to the final. Lauren Palangio scored 16 points and Kendall Berger 15 for Norwin, while Ella Cupka and Lilah Turnbull paced Chartiers Valley with 13 points apiece. Norwin trailed, 31-24, at the half before storming back. The Knights outscored Chartiers Valley, 19-10, in the fourth quarter. Norwin defeated the Colts, 63-47, in the WPIAL semifinals.

• Caleigh Sperling banked in a basket as she fell to the ground just before the buzzer to lift District 1 fourth-place finisher North Penn (24-4) to a 56-54 overtime win against WPIAL runner-up North Allegheny (23-4) at Bald Eagle. Sperling’s basket came after North Allegheny’s Caroline Henderson knocked down a 3-pointer to tie the score at 54 with 19 seconds left. North Allegheny, which had reached the quarterfinals three of the past four seasons, led by as many as nine points in the third quarter before North Penn rallied to tie the score at 49 and force overtime. Lydia Betz led North Allegheny with 21 points and Henderson added 19. Sperling paced North Penn with 16 points.

• Gemma Walker scored 24 points and Natalie Wetzel added 14, but WPIAL third-place finisher Peters Township (24-3) was eliminated by District 1 runner-up Spring-Ford (23-5), 74-53, at Bald Eagle. Peters Township led, 17-13, after one quarter, but it was all Spring-Ford after that. The Rams went ahead, 32-27, at the half before breaking the game open in the third quarter. Aaliyah Soliday led Spring-Ford with 25 points and Katie Tiffan chipped in 21. Peters Township was trying to reach the quarterfinals for the first time since winning the PIAA title in 2019.

Avonworth’s Anna Bradley goes after the ball against Forest Hills players during their PIAA Class 3A second-round game Tuesday at Gateway. Avonworth won, 59-44, to advance to Friday’s quarterfinals. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Class 2A

• Mya Morgan’s 15 points led a trio of players scoring in double figures for WPIAL champion Greensburg Central Catholic (22-6), which raced to a 14-point first-quarter lead before going on to defeat District 10 third-place finisher West Middlesex (20-6), 54-45, at North Allegheny. Jayla Peterson added 14 points and Avery Davis 12 for the Centurions, a semifinalist a season ago who improved to 18-0 against Class 2A teams this season. Caitlin Stephens scored 22 points for West Middlesex, which used a buzzer-beater to win its first-round game.

• Iyanna Wade, the state’s leading scorer, pumped in a game-high 27 points, but WPIAL sixth-place qualifier Clairton (20-7) lost to District 6 third-place finisher Bishop McCort (26-2), 77-40, at Norwin. Gianna Gallucci scored 20 points for Bishop McCort, which defeated Serra in the first round and will play in the quarterfinals for the second year in a row. Clairton fell behind by 13 points after one quarter and trailed, 38-19, at the half. The Bears were seeking their first quarterfinal berth since 2002. Wade finished her junior season with 2,149 career points.

• Fresh off its first PIAA win in 20 years, WPIAL fourth-place qualifier South Side (16-12) fought neck and neck with District 5 champion Everett (20-7) before falling to the Warriors, 48-40, at Greensburg Salem. The score was tied, 29-29, after three quarters, but Everett used a 19-11 scoring edge in the fourth quarter to reach the quarterfinals for the first time since 2018. Bailey Strnisa led South Side with 12 points while Cloe Price paced Everett with a game-high 21.


Class 6A

North Penn 56, North Allegheny 54 (OT)

Norwin 56, Chartiers Valley 47

Spring-Ford 74, Peters Township 53

Class 3A

Avonworth 59, Forest Hills 44

Mercyhurst Prep 52, Neshannock 31

Shady Side Academy 62, Northwestern 45

Westmont Hilltop 54, Seton LaSalle 48

Class 2A

Bishop McCort 77, Clairton 40

Everett 48, South Side 40

Greensburg Central Catholic 54, West Middlesex 45

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

Brad Everett

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