East Xtra: Slow start costly for Oakland Catholic

WPIAL CLASS AAAA GIRLS BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP
March 8, 2012 12:01 am
  • Oakland Catholic's Bobbi Baker gets off a shot gainst Mt. Lebanon in the WPIAL Class AAAA championship at the Palumbo Center Friday.
    Oakland Catholic's Bobbi Baker gets off a shot gainst Mt. Lebanon in the WPIAL Class AAAA championship at the Palumbo Center Friday.
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As a player at Oakland Catholic, her experiences in WPIAL championship games ended on a positive note.

In her first appearance as a head coach at the WPIAL championship game, the ending was disappointing but her initial impression was just as special for Oakland Catholic coach Shannon Boyle.

"It was an amazing feeling just walking in," Boyle said. "It is one of those times in your life when you walk into the A.J. Palumbo Center and time just stands still. There are so many people there, it is so loud, it is an amazing feeling as a coach."

As a player Boyle started on two WPIAL championship-winning teams.

"I told the players, you have to feel the magic in this room," Boyle said. "Let that magic run through your veins and use that excitement. I am glad they got to experience that."

There was plenty of magic on Oakland's side Friday night. It overcame what seemed to be an insurmountable 20-6 deficit after one quarter against a strong Mt. Lebanon team. The Eagles chiseled away to close within 11 by halftime, four entering the fourth quarter and eventually took a 47-45 lead with 5:03 left.

In the end Mt. Lebanon's poise and experience won out as the Blue Devils survived, 58-49.

Mt. Lebanon was playing in its third consecutive WPIAL final. No one on Oakland Catholic had played at the Palumbo Center prior to Friday night.

The first quarter was as dominating in Mt. Lebanon's favor as it was shocking. Top-seeded Oakland had only lost one game all season, a 60-52 regular-season finale to WPIAL Class AA champion Seton-LaSalle. That was also the only occasion any team topped 50 points against the Eagles. After one quarter Mt. Lebanon was up, 20-6, on pace to score 80 points.

"It was eye-opening to my players," Boyle said. "I think Mt. Lebanon just came out so strong. We didn't come out that way. It was tough playing from behind but they are fighters and I really felt like they fought to the end."

Oakland had only allowed 35 points per game during the regular season.

"After the first quarter, coach Shannon just looked at us and said 'We don't even let teams score 35 points on us in a game and we allowed a team to score 20 in the first quarter,'" Oakland senior guard Bobbi Baker recalled.


First Published 2012-03-07 23:43:55

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