The pandemic didn't discourage them, it motivated them.By Rich Walsh

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The North Allegheny girls basketball team is looking to finish what they started, even though that “start” was “stopped” a full year ago.

Last March, North Allegheny won the WPIAL championship and were the favorites to win a state title until their dreams were dashed by the COVID-19 shutdown.

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“I know last year was really hard when everything shut down because we would always think about what could’ve been,” said North Allegheny senior guard Lizzie Groetsch.

“It kind of slapped us in the face,” said senior forward Paige Morningstar. “When everything shut down, that one day everything just cut out.”

Over the past year, the Tigers used that lost opportunity as motivation and are once again back in the state playoffs after winning 24 of 25 games and a second consecutive WPIAL title.

“I’m so grateful we’ve had the chance to play this year,” said Groetsch. “After experiencing last year being shut down, I’m just grateful we will be able to finish it on the court.”

After having their season ended last year, the Tigers are taking no chances with safety.

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They are one of the few local teams actually wearing masks full time.

“We realize as a group that’s what we have to do to keep going,” said Morningstar. “With all these teams that keep getting shut down so easily that to do what we want to do we have to keep (masks) up, stay spread apart when we’re not playing and then enjoy it afterward.”

Morningstar is continuing a “family tradition” of sorts.

Her dad is former Pitt star and NBA player Darren Morningstar who trained both Paige and Lizzie from a very young age.

“All that grinding and hard work he put us through when we were younger is the reason why we’re so successful now,” Morningstar said. “I took it for granted at the time but I’m very blessed to have had that, to go to all of those workouts and to learn from him to be where I am now.”

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As if they weren’t motivated enough – this team is also looking to win the first state championship in North Allegheny basketball history.