North Allegheny girls drop Hempfield in playoff opener
Hempfield girls basketball coach Scott Breegle couldn’t have asked for a better start from his basketball team Friday night.
Unfortunately for Breegle, his Spartans couldn’t sustain their quick start and lost to No. 6 North Allegheny, 66-50, in a WPIAL Class AAAA first-round game at Plum.
Hempfield, behind the strong inside play of senior forward Hannah Falcsik, raced out to a 14-3 lead early in the first quarter.
Falcsik scored five points in the opening quarter, as Hempfield led, 14-10.
North Allegheny (20-3) decided to trap Hempfield’s shorter guards in the second quarter, which forced the Spartans into seven turnovers.
The Tigers also started to hit 3-pointers, as senior Kelly Brennan — who finished with 25 points — hit twice from the corner and Maddie Nellis added another.
North Allegheny led, 25-20, before Hempfield (13-10) used a 7-0 run to end the half and grab a 27-25 lead at the break. During that run Courtney DiBridge hit a 3-pointer and Falcsik hit two buckets.
“They had trouble controlling Hannah in the first half,” Breegle said. “She played excellent. In the second half, we just couldn’t get the ball down low.”
That’s because North Allegheny’s pressure picked up after halftime. The Tigers’ defense held Hempfield without a field goal in the third quarter and outscored the Spartans, 24-5, to grab a 49-32 lead.
Hempfield was 0 for 9 from the floor and turned the ball over seven times. The Spartans finished with 25 turnovers.
“Their pressure got to us,” Breegle said. “We couldn’t keep the ball off the sides, and we knew they’d trap us there. We have a tendency to try to do a little too much. We also rushed a lot of shots.”
Brennan and Alexis Aiken, daughter of former Pitt player Curtis Aiken, took over in the second half. Brennan had 13 points in the second half, and Aiken scored 15 of her 17 points after the break. Aiken also had 11 rebounds.
North Allegheny coach Sherri McConnell said her team seemed nervous to start the game.
“Because we hadn’t won in the first round for three years, I think they were thinking about it too much,” McConnell said. “I thought Hempfield was a very good team. We were a little excited, and we had to settle things down.
“Hempfield did a nice job executing and got off to a good start. We ended up going to a half-court trap, which brought Falcsik away from the basket. That’s what helped out effectiveness in slowing her down.”
Danielle Murphy scored 10 points for Hempfield.
“It was a good season,” Breegle said. “We have a nice group back, and I’m looking forward to next year.”