JOHNSTOWN - Bishop Guilfoyle was playing its third game in 24 hours, but coach Mark Moschella wouldn't dare use that as a reason for his team's play in Saturday night's Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference Championship.
The Section 1 champion Lady Marauders, who had to win two games Friday night just to advance to the title tilt by virtue of tiebreakers over Forest Hills and Penn Cambria, came out flat, in a hurry and completely looking rattled against Section 2 champion Westmont Hilltop.
The Lady Hilltoppers, jumped out early and never relented in picking up the hardware with a convincing 42-30 win at Richland High School's Sportscenter.
"It was more about the good things Westmont did tonight, and not about us playing three games," Moschella said. "We don't use that as an excuse. We need to have other kids on the team step up offensively, and that didn't happen for us tonight."
Westmont was playing in its fourth straight LHAC championship, and after having gone 0-3 in its previous trips, turned to the experience of its lone senior, Alyssa Miller, to carry it to the crown.
"To win the Laurel Highlands is great, but to win the Laurel Highlands over Bishop Guilfoyle, is even a greater feat," Westmont Hilltop coach Jodi Hillegas said.
Miller, who went scoreless in the first quarter, scored six, six and five in the last three stanzas to post a game-high 17 points.
However, it wasn't just the points that Miller made a difference with, Guilfoyle couldn't keep her off the offensive glass. She pulled down six rebounds, but four of them she converted on putback attempts.
While BG had all kinds of trouble defensively, its offense was taken completely out of sync by the Lady Hilltoppers' diamond-and-one being played on BG top scorer Lili Benzel.
Benzel, who finished with just eight points, was harassed all night by either Megan Zolnosky or Bridget Sheehan, and the two caused the freshman standout to turn the ball over in a number of ways.
"I knew the key was stopping Benzel," Hillegas said. "We went into the diamond-and-one, and I thought Megan and Bridget did a great job on her. I thought that was just the key to the game."
With their leading scorer ineffective, the Lady Marauders didn't have an answer to counter with, as fellow freshman Macy Adams led BG with nine points.
"If we have some kids step up and hit some shots, then she [Hillegas] has to get out of her junk defense," Moschella said. "If we're not aggressive with our other players, then she can stay in it. That's exactly what happened."
Marina Scipioni replaced Benzel in the third quarter and immediately went to work trying to do her part. The sophomore nailed a 3-pointer at the 5:44 mark of the third to give BG its first points after the break.
Scipioni then quickly cut a 10-point deficit (31-21) to five with a jumper and another trey with 5.8 ticks left in the third to pull the Lady Marauders to 31-26.
However, the Lady Hilltoppers scored the first five points of the fourth to lift the lead back to 10.
Benzel's four points accounted for the only two buckets of the quarter for BG as Westmont won the quarter 11-4.
Zolnosky added 11 points as the Lady Hilltoppers improved to 18-3, while BG fell to 17-5.
"Our kids will hopefully be able to take something out of this and be ready for the playoffs," Moschella said.
WESTMONT HILLTOP (42): Zolnosky 4 3-5 11, Moyer 4 0-1 9, Sheehan 0 0-0 0, Miller 7 3-4 17, Flick 1 2-4 4, Hoover 0 0-2 0, Foster 0 1-2 1, Fisher 0 0-0 0. Totals: 16 9-18 42.
BISHOP GUILFOYLE (30): McGhee 0 0-0 0, Dombrowski 1 0-2 2, Adams 3 1-3 9. Benzel 4 0-0 8, Taddei 0 0-0 0, Irvin 0 0-0 0, Lewis 1 1-4 3, Scipioni 3 0-0 8, Miller 0 0-0 0. Totals: 12 2-9 30.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Westmont Hilltop10 10 11 11 - 42
Bishop Guilfoyle7 6 13 4 - 30
3-point goals: Westmont Hilltop 1 (Moyer); Bishop Guilfoyle 4 (Adams 2, Scipioni 2).
Records: Westmont Hilltop (18-3); Bishop Guilfoyle (17-5).