Mt. Lebanon girls basketball coach Dori Oldaker is a teacher. So it is not surprising when she describes games as tests.
On Jan. 17 at 7:30 p.m. the Blue Devils have a big one when they visit Upper St. Clair.
“USC is an extremely talented team,” Oldaker said. “They will provide a great challenge for us and an opportunity to see where we are and where we stand. It’s not the final exam.”
Likewise, a preparatory game at Bethel Park was just another assessment. On Jan. 10, the Blue Devils dispatched the Black Hawks, 59-38. BP was fresh off a 52-47 victory over USC.
“It was a solid win for us at Bethel, especially on their floor,” Oldaker said. “There is no such thing as an easy game in our section. So every win is big.”
This season, the Blue Devils have graded 100%. After beating Peters Township, 54-40, Lebo was 12-0 and sat atop the Section 2, 6A standings with a 5-0 record.
“Honestly, we we are just trying to improve every day,” Oldaker said. “As a coaching staff, we are trying to pinpoint our weaknesses and focus on repairing any cracks on both ends of the court.”
There are no fissures in Ashleigh Connor’s game. A St. Louis recruit, she maintained her 21.4-point average after firing in 27 points for Lebo against BP and 34 against Peters. An all-state and all-section performer, she buried eight, 3-pointers against the Indians, including five in the final quarter.
“Ash has played fantastic,” Oldaker said. “She has been putting up nice numbers offensively and playing complete games on both ends of the floor.”
The Blue Devils are excited to have Reagan Murdoch back in the line up. A three-year starter, who will play lacrosse at American University, she had been sidelined with a broken foot. Murdoch pitched in 10 points against BP.
“Reagan is our engine,” Oldaker said. “It is so great to have her back on the court. She played inspired basketball versus Bethel. She’s not a point guard, but with her basketball IQ, she plays like one.”
Gina Smith has also impressed Oldaker with her grit and determination. Despite tweaking her ankle, she has excelled on the defensive side of the ball.
“She’s a machine,” said Oldaker. “She plays locked down defense for 32 minutes. She’s tenacious.”
Anna Streiff matches Smith defensively while contributing to the offense and Tori Petko is an all-purpose player, providing the team with whatever is necessary to accomplish the mission.
As a semifinalist the past two seasons, the WPIAL Class 6A finals are the objective for Lebo. In the meantime, the focus is USC.
The Panthers rebounded nicely from their lone loss of the season by beating Peters Township, 65-40, and Thomas Jefferson, 61-30.
In the non-section win against the Jaguars, Molly James registered a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Kate Robbins led all scorers with 17 tallies while Rylee Kalocay and Mia Brown chipped in 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Robbins duplicated her 17-point performance against the Indians. Brown scored 15, while Kalocay added 10. James scored 9 points and Paige Dellicarri pitched in 8 to aide the offensive attack for USC.
“We shot the ball well. We didn’t do that against Bethel and that affected other aspects of the game,” USC head coach Pete Serio said.
“Bethel played well, though. They earned that win but hopefully the game has us refocused the ready to continue to grow.”
The Panthers, like the Blue Devils, are tenacious on defense. Against the Indians they allowed only four points in the fourth quarter. USC surrenders 37.8 points per game compared to Lebo’s 35.9 average.
“Mt Lebanon is very good and they have proven that. They have one of the best players (Connor) in the WPIAL who can take over the game and they start three seniors,” said Serio.
“We need to prepare as we always do and focus on the things we do well and play together.
Emma Dziezgowski led BP with 17 points against Lebo and 20 points against USC. Becky Gillenberger provided 12 points for the Black Hawks in the upset over the Panthers. Brown, Kalocay and Kate Moore each had 10 points for USC.
Dziezgowski also managed 28 points in a 63-41 win against Canon-McMillan.
Journey Thompson pumped in 17 points for Peters Township against USC. She pitched in 15 in the loss to Lebo. Natalie Wetzel also provided nine points against the Blue Devils.