CRANBERRY TWP — Winning on the road hasn't proved to be much of an issue for the North Catholic girls basketball team.
But the Trojanettes, who captured their 13th straight game with a 78-47 Section 1-4A decision over Knoch Thursday night at Barth & Graham Court, were relieved to be home before the postseason grind starts.
Nine of North Catholic's last 10 games were played on the road or neutral courts. Having two home games to close the season — North Catholic will host Bethel Park Monday — provides the Trojanettes (20-1, 14-0) an opportunity to clear their minds before pursuing a fourth straight WPIAL crown.
“We've been gone most of January and it's a grind,” North Catholic coach Molly Rottmann said. “They are long trips. Even when we were in non-section, we were out at Bethel Park (against Upper St. Clair) and Peters Township. I was a little nervous with all the distractions tonight. They came out and looked good.”
Knoch (16-6, 11-3) shook off a slow start to make things tight midway through the first quarter. Lauren Cihonski canned a jumper with less than four minutes remaining to cap a 6-0 run that evened the game.
The Knights, who had an eight-game winning streak snapped, went nearly three minutes without scoring to open the game and turned the ball over six times.
“We just needed to do what we do,” Knoch coach Chris Andreassi said. “That's all. It has to be about us. We need to run our offense and that's what we didn't do at the beginning of the game, but we fought back.”
Emma Pospisil put North Catholic ahead for good, 9-6, with 2:51 left in the first quarter. Her 3-pointer kicked off a 14-2 run for the Trojanettes.
Sarah Berardelli capped off the run with two layups to put North Catholic ahead 20-8.
Pospisil was one of three North Catholic players in double figures, along with Kylee Lewandowski and Tess Myers, who both finished with 17.
Lewandowski said after Knoch tied the game, North Catholic was focused on being stout defensively.
“This game will help us get ready for playoffs,” Lewandowski said. “We had to play defense like it's a playoff game. We had to lock down and try to shut them down when we could.”
Knoch, which trailed 45-16 at halftime, found its rhythm after the break. Nevaeh Ewing made four 3-pointers and finished with a team-high 17 points, while Madilyn Boyer added 11.
“We have to gather ourselves back together and remember that nothing is guaranteed in the playoffs,” Lewandowski said. “One loss and we are done.”
Nevaeh Ewing 6 1-1 17, Madilyn Boyer 4 2-4 11, Nina Shaw 2 1-2 6, Lauren Cihonski 3 0-0 6, Abby Shearer 1 2-2 4, Samantha Archer 1 0-0 2, Meghan Vasas 1 0-0 2, Amanda Huckestein 0 0-0 0, Mackenzie McGraw 0 0-0 0. Totals: 18 6-9 47.
NORTH CATHOLIC 78
Kylee Lewandowski 8 0-1 17, Tess Myers 6 4-5 17, Emma Pospisil 5 0-0 12, Belle O'Hara 4 0-0 8, Cassie Foster 3 0-0 7, Sara Berardelli 3 0-2 6, Branygan Bianchin 1 0-0 3, Dacia Lewandowski 1 0-0 3, Carlie Kreutzer 1 0-0 3, Hannah Waskiewicz 1 0-0 2, Shealin O'Shea 0 0-0 0, Lexie Raabe 0 0-0 0. Totals: 33 4-8 78.
Knoch 9 7 16 15 — 47
North Catholic20 25 14 19 — 78
3-point goals: Knoch 6 (Ewing 4, Shaw, Boyer); North Catholic 8 (Pospisil 2, Foster, K. Lewandowski, D. Lewandowski, Myers, Bianchin, Kreutzer)
Monday: Bethel Park at North Catholic; Knoch in WPIAL playoffs, TBD