Trib HSSN girls basketball team of the week for Jan. 22, 2023

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Sunday, January 22, 2023 | 8:13 PM


Former Perry star basketball player Eddie Benton has returned home to the Pittsburgh area after several years as an Assistant Coach of the Women’s basketball teams at Cincinnati and Mississippi State.

Oakland Catholic is thrilled with his homecoming.

In his first year, Benton has Oakland Catholic soaring in Class 5A, as the Eagles have won 12 straight and are alone in first place in a tough Section 3 with an overall record of 14-2.

“It’s been really good,” Benton said. “When I took the job at Oakland (Catholic), one of the things I told myself was I didn’t want to change anything that I’d been doing as a college coach. All these young ladies are going on to college, and I want their transition to be seamless.”

Much like the transition from coaching college basketball to high school hoops seems to have been seamless for Benton.

“I haven’t changed anything,” Benton said. “I train them and I coach them just like I did with the young ladies at Mississippi State, Cincinnati, Duquesne and so on. I’m doing what I’ve been doing the last 25 years, and the girls have done a tremendous job into buying into what we’re trying to do.”

Over a week ago, Oakland Catholic was tied with McKeesport and Penn-Trafford for first place in Section 3-5A.

After both the Eagles and Tigers beat the Warriors, it set up a battle for first place on Tuesday between Oakland Catholic and McKeesport.

With the score tied 38-38 after three quarters, the Eagles outscored the host Tigers, 21-13, in the final quarter to win 59-51.

“McKeesport is a phenomenal team,” Benton said. “They’re physical, they’re skilled, and we knew it was going to be a big test for us. One of the things I told the girls all week long was Let’s just work on being the best version of ourselves.”

Senior Alexa Washington led the Eagles with 21 points, and fellow senior Rachel Haver added 12 points.

Two days later, there was no sign of a letdown after the big section win as Oakland Catholic traveled to Latrobe and beat the Wildcats, 78-50.

“I’m a firm believer that your preparation must be three times harder than the game,” Benton said. “When you have a lot of games like that, you can get a little complacent. I just try to keep the heat on them every day in practice.”

The Eagles outscored the Wildcats, 22-10, in the third quarter to blow open a close game.

Senior Halena Hill scored 30 points to lead the way for Oakland Catholic, sophomore London Creach scored 12 and Haver and senior Jill Gallo added 10 points each.

The week concluded for Oakland Catholic on Saturday with a thrashing of host Allderdice in The Challenge basketball event, 80-12. Hill scored a game-high 14 points, Washington added 12 and junior Raygen Hintemeyer chipped in 11 points for the Eagles.

Even though the second half of section play is just beginning, Oakland Catholic can clinch a playoff berth with a win over visiting Connellsville (0-7, 3-13) on Monday.

2023 Trib HSSN Girls Basketball Teams of the Week

Week 2: Blackhawk

Week 1: Shady Side Academy

Tags: Oakland Catholic

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