Mt. Lebanon girls basketball coach Dori Oldaker is a teacher. So it’s not surprising that she calls games tests.
On January 17 at 7:30 p.m., the Blue Devils have a grand performance when they visit Upper St. Clair.
“USC is an extremely talented team,” said Oldaker. “They will be a great challenge for us and an opportunity to see where we are and where we are. It’s not the final exam.”
Likewise, a preseason game at Bethel Park was just another assessment. On January 10, the Blue Devils dispatched the Black Hawks, 59-38. BP was fresh from a 52-47 win 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 division. So every win is great.”
The Blue Devils have achieved 100% this season. After beating Peters Township 54-40, Lebo was 12-0 to top the Section 2, 6A standings with a 5-0 record.
“Honestly, we’re trying to improve every day,” said Oldaker. “As a coaching staff we try to pinpoint our weaknesses and focus on repairing cracks at both ends of the pitch.”
There are no cracks in Ashleigh Connor’s game. As a St. Louis recruit, she maintained her 21.4 point average after giving up 27 points for Lebo against BP and 34 against Peters. An all-state and all-section performer, she buried eight, 3-points against the Indians, including five in the final quarter.
“Ash played fantastically,” said Oldaker. “She put up nice numbers offensively and played complete games at both ends of the floor.”
The Blue Devils are happy to have Reagan Murdoch back in the lineup. A three-year-old starter who will play lacrosse at American University was sidelined with a broken foot. Murdoch scored 10 points against BP.
“Reagan is our engine,” Oldaker said. “It’s so great to have them back on the pitch. She played inspired basketball against Bethel. She’s not a point guard, but with her basketball IQ, she plays like one.”
Gina Smith also impressed Oldaker with her courage and determination. Despite pinching her ankle, she excelled on the defensive side of the ball.
“She’s a machine,” Oldaker said. “She played in defense for 32 minutes. She is persistent.”
Anna Streiff fits Smith defensively while adding offense, and Tori Petko is an all-purpose player who provides the team with everything needed to complete the mission.
A semi-finalist for the past two seasons, the WPIAL Class 6A final is Lebo’s goal. Meanwhile, the focus is on USC.
The Panthers recovered well from their lone loss of the season by defeating Peters Township (65-40) and Thomas Jefferson (61-30).
In the non-section win over the Jaguars, Molly James hit a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Kate Robbins led all scorers with 17 points, while Rylee Kalocay and Mia Brown had 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Robbins repeated her 17-point performance against the Indians. Brown scored 15 while Kalocay added 10. James scored 9 points and Paige Dellicarri threw in 8 to add offensive offense for USC.
“We kicked the ball well. We didn’t do that against Bethel and that affected other aspects of the game,” said USC head coach Pete Serio.
“But Bethel played well. They deserved this win but hopefully the game recalibrated us to keep growing.”
Like the Blue Devils, the Panthers are tenacious on defense. They only allowed four points against the Indians in the fourth quarter. USC gives up 37.8 points per game compared to Lebo’s 35.9 average.
“Lebanon are very good and they proved that. They have one of the best players (Connor) in the WPIAL to take over and they start with three seniors,” Serio said.
“As always, we have to prepare and focus on the things that we do well and play together.
Emma Dziezgowski led BP with 17 points against Lebo and 20 points against USC. Becky Gillenberger gave the Black Hawks 12 points in the excitement of the Panthers. Brown, Kalocay and Kate Moore each had 10 points for USC.
Dziezgowski also scored 28 points in a 63-41 win over Canon-McMillan.
Journey Thompson pumped in 17 points for Peters Township against USC. She was 15th when she lost to Lebo. Natalie Wetzel also scored nine points against the Blue Devils.