One of the most difficult nights for the McGuffey girls basketball team might turn out to be one of its most impactful.
Despite routinely blowing teams out – the Highlanders had won 10 Section 5-AA games by 39.7 points per game – McGuffey struggled mightily Monday against visiting Washington High School but still did enough for a 57-55 win.
The victory, ugly as it might have been, guaranteed McGuffey its first section title since 1990.
“It feels better than blowouts,” said sophomore Sammie Weiss, who finished with 23 points and 13 rebounds. “This is one of the most intense games we’ve had.”
Rachel Czulewicz made two free throws with 38 seconds left to give McGuffey (11-0, 18-1) a 56-55 lead – its first meaningful lead of the game – and Weiss tacked on a free throw during a final quarter where the Highlanders made nine of 12 from the free throw line.
Czulewicz finished with 12 points. Mya Gordon led Wash High (7-4, 11-10) with 21 points, and Taylor Ellis added 11.
“It was one of those things where everything that could go wrong, went wrong,” said McGuffey coach Amanda Burchett. “We made mistakes that we never make. We played horrible defense, and that was our thing.
“But we have great kids. They literally came together, and everybody did their job those last two minutes. They left everything on the court.”
South Fayette 56, Montour 37: Lauren Crites had 17 points, and Shannon Gillespie 16, as playoff-bound South Fayette topped Montour, 56-37, in a Section 5-AAA game.
Caitlin McLuckie added 12 points for the Lions, who opened the game with a 16-9 run.
Taliah Benal led Montour (0-11, 2-17) with 10 points.
Upper St. Clair 58, Peters Township 33: Madison Serio’s 17 points helped Upper St. Clair defeat Peters Township, 58-33, in a Section 4-AAAA game.
Rachel Mazzie added 12 points, and Emma Hasco added 10 for USC (5-6, 10-10).
Brigit Loether led Peters Township (0-11, 3-16) with eight points.
South Park 76, Trinity 35: Shelby Lindsay had 20 points as South Park had all five starters reach double digits in a 76-35 Section 5-AAA win over Trinity.
Allison McGrath and Halie Torris had 15 points each, Linsey Noss added 11 and Natalie Clydesdale 10 for South Park (12-0, 18-2).
Lauren Simpson had 13 points and Mary Dunn 11 for Trinity (4-7, 8-11).
Bishop Canevin 62, Fort Cherry 14: Celina DiPietro had 18 points as Bishop Canevin opened the game on a 26-2 run en route to a 62-14 Section 4-AA win over Fort Cherry.
Erin Waskowiak added 17 points, and Johnnie Olkosky had 15 for Bishop Canevin (10-1, 17-3).
Jenna Lucas led Fort Cherry (4-7, 7-10) with eight points.
McGuffey 57, Fort Cherry 45: A 22-13 run in the fourth quarter by McGuffey locked up a 57-45 victory over Fort Cherry in a non-section game.
Taylor Pasquariello scored a game-high 23 points for the Highlanders (8-12). Darrell Briggs added 12 points and Caleb Reihner 11.
Zach Dysert paced Fort Cherry (3-16) with 18 points. Jeremy Lucas chipped in with 12.