By Chris Rossetti, D9Sports.com
Special to MaxPreps.com
CLARION, Pa. – Having good guard play is a key to winning in the basketball postseason.
And the North East Grapepickers boys’ basketball team found out just how important it is Wednesday night, when its collection of guards helped beat a taller Tyrone squad, 50-46, in a PIAA Class AA second-round game at Clarion University’s Tippin Gym.
“Our guards have to play well,” North East coach Thomas Pyle said. “That’s all we have, our guards. They did tonight what we intended them to do.”
The North East guards were never bigger than in the game’s final 2:41, after Tyrone had rallied from a seven-point deficit to tie the game at 41 on two free throws by Matt Brooks.
Five-foot-nine point guard Matt Triana broke the tie with a basket at 2:41, and then a minute later Triana found 6-1 swingman Michael Rouse on a jumper to put North East ahead, 45-41.
“Maybe we got too careful with the lead,” Pyle said. “When they tied the game, the fire came back. Matt had a huge shot and then found Rouse for another big shot.”
Another small guard, 5-9 Aaron Meehl, then came up with a steal and was fouled, making one of two free throws to give the Grapepickers a 46-41 lead with 1:19 to go.
Tyrone had one last chance when Kyle Updyke drilled a 3-pointer with 57 seconds left making it a two-point game, 46-44. But Rouse and Bryan Kirsh each hit two free throw in the final 22.1 seconds, with Kirsch’s coming with four seconds left and North East ahead 48-46, to seal the win.
Tyrone led 23-22 at halftime, but North East started the second half on a 7-1 run to take a 29-24 lead that they built to 37-29 by the end of the third quarter.
The Eagles cut the deficit to 37-34 early in the third quarter before four straight points by Rouse made it 41-34 with 3:37 left.
A 3-pointer by Updyke, however, fueled a 7-0 run that allowed Tyrone to tie the game on Brook’s free throws with 3:02 left.
Rouse scored a game-high 21 points for North East, while Triana added 14. Steve Catich led Tyrone with 17 points, including 10 in the second half. Brooks added 10, Updyke eight and Nate Dane had seven.
North East faces Farrell in the quarterfinals at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Edinboro’s McComb Fieldhouse.
BOYS’ CLASS AAAA
Two teams from Western Pennsylvania advanced to the PIAA Class AAAA boy’s quarterfinals Wednesday, with Pittsburgh Central Catholic beating Erie McDowell, 49-47, and Moon topping McKeesport, 37-36. The two, which met in the WPIAL title game (with PCC winning on a last-second shot after rallying from seven down with just over a minute to play), will play at 2 p.m. Saturday at North Allegheny High School.
PCC advanced to the game when Lucas Mikens hit a 14-foot jumper at the horn to give the Viking the win over Erie McDowell at Slippery Rock University.
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Mickens’ shot appeared to be long but bounced high into the air before going through the net.
“I thought it was an air ball,” Mickens told the Post-Gazette.
Mickens’ 13 points led PCC, while Jason Keim paced McDowell with 16 points.
Meanwhile at North Allegheny, Moon rallied from a five-point deficit in the final 1:41 to get the 37-36 win over McKeesport on a Brian Walsh lay-up with 22 seconds left. McKeesport had one last chance, but Quentin Harding’s three at the buzzer was off.
While Walsh hit the game winner, it was a pair of 3-pointers from Anthony Valenzi that set up the game-winner. Valenzi’s first three made it 34-32 McKeesport, and his second made it 36-35 McKeesport.
Walsh had a game-high 14 points for Moon. Harding led McKeesport with nine points.
GIRLS’ CLASS AAAA
Tuesday saw the top two teams from the WPIAL go down to defeat in the PIAA girls’ Class AAAA second round, with WPIAL champion Upper St. Clair losing to the fourth-place team from the WPIAL, Mt. Lebanon, 62-44, and WPIAL runner-up Peters Township falling to Pittsburgh City League runner-up Schenley, 49-45. Mt. Lebanon and Schenley will meet in the quarterfinals at 6 p.m. Friday at Chartiers Valley High School.
Mt. Lebanon, the WPIAL pre-tournament favorites before being beaten by Peters Twp. in the semifinals, got 17 points from Emily Miller and 14 from Jackie Babe, while overcoming a four-point first quarter to get the win over Upper St. Clair. USC, which led 10-4 at the end of the first, got 15 points from Meghan McLean and 10 from Alex Gensler.
Schenley, meanwhile, became the first Pittsburgh City League team to move into the quarterfinals since it did it in 2002, when it used a game-ending 8-4 run to break a 41-all tie in the final three minutes.
Markel Walker paced Schenley with 12 points while Lindsey Hayes added 11 and Raven Miller 10. Emily Correal led Peters Township with a game-high 16 points.
BOYS’ CLASS AAA
District 9 champion Bradford dispatched its second straight WPIAL team Tuesday night when it beat WPIAL runner-up Hopewell, 50-39, at Clarion’s Tippin Gym.
Ryan LaBrozzi led the Owls with 15 points, while Ben Lanich added 11. Drew Falletta paced Hopewell with 19 points and Mark Javens added nine.
Bradford faces Steelton-Highspire in the quarterfinals at 7 p.m. Friday at State College High School.
Also advancing to the quarterfinals from the western half of the state Tuesday were WPIAL champion Blackhawk, with a 55-52 win over Greensburg Salem, and District 10 champion General McLane, with a 67-54 win over Central Cambria. Blackhawk faces General McLane at 8 p.m. Friday at Slippery Rock University.
In the Blackhawk game, which was originally scheduled for North Allegheny High School but was moved at the last minute to North Hills High School because of a power failure at North Allegheny, the Cougars got the win behind 24 points from Antoine Childs, including the game-winner in the final minute.
Greensburg-Salem, which got 16 points from Brooks Roorback, had a chance to tie the game with 7.7 seconds left and trailing by one, but Aaron Allen missed the front end of a one-and-one.
General McLane, the top ranked Class AAA team in the state by the Harrisburg Patriot-News, got 29 points and 24 rebounds from Shawn Walker to beat Central Cambria, which got 26 points of its own from Mike Gowen. The victory was No. 500 for General McLane coach Andy Schulz.
“I didn’t want to tell anybody,” Schulz told the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat. “The kids kept asking, ‘When is your 500th?’ I said I didn’t know. I feel like I’m the luckiest coach in America to coach at General McLane for 23 years. It’s a great program, a great community with great kids.”
GIRLS’ CLASS AAA
Three Western Pennsylvania girls’ Class AAA teams moved into the PIAA quarterfinals Wednesday, with Bellefonte knocking off General McLane, 47-30, Mercyhurst Prep defeating Westinghouse, 44-43, and West Mifflin toppling Indiana, 61-46.
Bellefonte got 18 points from Angie Proper and nine from Liz Wortman to defeat General McLane at Clarion’s Tippin Gym. McLane, which trailed 22-11 at halftime, was led by Sarah Hansen’s 18 points.
Mercyhurst Prep, which was ranked No. 1 in Class AAA by the Patriot-News and in the Top 25 in the state by MaxPreps for most of the season before being upset in the District 10 semifinals, continued to claw its way through the PIAA playoffs, getting the one-point win when Kirsten Olowinski made the second of two free throws with 0.1 seconds left.
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the foul that sent Olowinski to the line was a controversial one at half court.
Westinghouse’s Tatayonna Cox poked the ball out of bounds at half court with the game tied at 43, and the official next to the play called the ball out of bounds. The official on the other side of the court, however, called Cox on a foul.
Olowinski led Mercyhurst Prep with 19 points, while Shawnice Wilson paced Westinghouse with 17.
Mercyhurst Prep will take on Bellefonte in the quarterfinals at 2 p.m. Saturday at Tippin Gym.
West Mifflin, meanwhile, had a little trouble with Indiana, getting 31 combined points from Raven Metz and Jessica Pitts in recording the 15-point victory.
Metz scored a game-high 16 points and Pitts added 15. Julie Mack led Indiana with 15.
West Mifflin will face Gettysburg at 4 p.m. at Everett High School (between Breezewood and Bedford) Saturday in the quarterfinals.
BOYS’ CLASS AA
In addition to North East’s victory over Tyrone in the PIAA Class AA boys’ second round Wednesday, Farrell toppled South Fayette, 63-56; Terrelle Pryor led Jeannette as it beat Girard, 67-35, and North Catholic handled Bishop McCort, 54-39.
Farrell got 20 points from Donald Jackson to beat South Fayette, the fifth-place team out of the WPIAL, thanks to a 10-0 fourth-quarter run. Mike Lamberti led the Lions with 12 points. The Steelers meet North East in the quarterfinals.
Pryor, meanwhile, continued his great play with 16 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in the easy win over Girard, which got 15 points from Mike Droll. Jordan Hall added 14 points for the Jayhawks.
Jeannette will take on WPIAL rival North Catholic at 2 p.m. Saturday at Hempfield High School, after the Trojans got 14 points and 10 rebounds from Henry Pwono and 11 points from Jesse Long to defeat District 6 runner-up Bishop McCort, which trailed by just two going to the fourth quarter. The Crushers were led by Mike Cruz’s 11 points and nine rebounds and Zak Boyd’s 10 tallies.
GIRLS’ CLASS AA
If overcoming adversity is what it takes to win a championship, then the Greensburg Central Catholic Lady Centurions should be well on their way to a state title.
GCC, the fifth-place team out of the WPIAL, has had to endure a six-hour bus ride – on a trip that should have taken two hours at the most – through a near blizzard to beat District 9 champion Karns City, 62-54, in the opening round of the PIAA tournament last Friday. It then had to overcome a power failure, a change of venues in mid game, and overtime to knock off WPIAL runner-up Our Lady of Sacred Heart, 55-50, Tuesday.
With the Lady Centurions leading 38-32 with 6:30 left in the fourth quarter, a vehicle hit a transformer that serves North Allegheny High School, knocking the lights out.
After finding out that the lights could take up to five hours to come back on, the game was moved seven miles down the road to North Hills High School and resumed one hour, 35 minutes after the interruption.
OLSH seemed to adjust better to the delay going on a 7-0 run to take 39-38 lead.
“That break killed us,” GCC head coach Rich Rosensteel told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
GCC rallied, however, rolling off four straight points to take a 43-39 lead with just over a minute to go before OLSH tied the game at 43 at the end of regulation.
The Lady Centurions, however, outscored OLSH by 12-7 in the extra frame to get the win.
“I’ve been involved in coaching 40-some years,” Rosensteel told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Tribune-Review. “This is the most bizarre tournament I’ve seen. First it takes us seven hours to get up to Clarion in the snow Friday. Now, tonight the daggone lights go out. But the resiliency of my kids is ridiculous. They’re just tremendous”
Greensburg Central Catholic will take on District 6 runner-up Bishop McCort in the quarterfinals at 7 p.m. Friday at St. Vincent College.
Bishop McCort upset District 10 champion Villa Maria Academy, 50-45, behind 15 points each from Marissa Basile and Sarah Pastorek. VMA was led by 14 points each from Brittany Wilwohl and Kayla McBridge.
The other Western Region quarterfinal will take place at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Slippery Rock University, when Girard faces Northern Cambria.
Girard, the D10 runner-up, beat WPIAL champion South Park, 36-35, in controversial fashion Tuesday.
South Park led 35-34 when Girard’s Liz Rickard tried a desperation 3-pointer with 0.1 seconds left. Rickard was fouled and made two free throws to give Girard the win. Rickard finished with a team-best 11 points. Nicole Doria led South Park with 15 points, and Brittany Pfaff added 13.
Northern Cambria, meanwhile, made quick work of Ford City, beating the Sabers, 54-18; Ariel Rocco scored 17 points for Northern Cambria. Ford City was paced by nine points from Lynzee Panchik.
BOYS’ CLASS A
Blair Heimel scored 21 points and Colton Corey added 10 to lead Coudersport to a 55-47 win over Union-New Castle in the PIAA Class A boys’ second round Tuesday night.
Union-New Castle got 23 points from Jordan Clingensmith and 10 from Jason Burkes.
Coudersport, the District 9 champion, will play Kennedy Catholic, the District 10 champion, which beat Wilkinsburg, 59-46, behind 21 points from junior guard Kyle Randall, who averages over 26 ppg. The game is set for 7 p.m. Friday at Clarion University’s Tippin Gym.
Wilkinsburg got 15 points from Keith Smith.
The other quarterfinal matchup will feature WPIAL champion Serra Catholic taking on Bentworth, the fourth-place team from the WPIAL, at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Chartiers Valley High School.
Serra Catholic reached the quarterfinals with a come-from-behind 50-46 win over Bishop Guilfoyle, which was playing its first PIAA game after getting a first-round forfeit win over St. Joseph, which refused to travel Friday night because of poor road conditions caused by a near blizzard.
The Eagles trailed by eight, 35-27, going to the fourth quarter, but used a 15-2 run in the quarter behind eight points from Pat Grubbs to get the win. The 6-8, 300-plus pounds Grubbs had 22 points and 13 rebounds. Logan McDannell led BG with 17 points.
Bentworth moved into the quarterfinals after knocking off defending Western Region champion DuBois Central Catholic, 64-62, Tuesday, when Joe Kennedy’s rebound and put back off brother Jon Kennedy’s missed 3-pointer with five seconds left provided the winning points.
Jon Kennedy led all scorers with 28 points, including 23 of the Bearcats' 34 in the first half, while Joe Kennedy chipped in with 13 tallies.
John Ferraraccio led DCC with 14 points, Christian Spilman added 13, Max Moclock had 11 and Chris Marshall 10. Spilman finished his career with 1,042 points.
GIRLS’ CLASS A
It’s the WPIAL vs. District 10 in the PIAA Class A girls’ quarterfinals on the western side of the bracket, with WPIAL champion Mt. Alvernia taking on District 10 runner-up Eisenhower at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Clarion University’s Tippin Gym, and Avonworth, the fourth-place team from the WPIAL, taking on District 10 champion Farrell at 5 p.m. Saturday at Edinboro University.
Mt. Alvernia advanced to the quarterfinals with a 75-65 win over Saltsburg. Lisa Kaczynski had 30 points for the Lions, while Renee Brown added 17 and Katarina Owunna 15. Tamara Blankenship led Saltsburg with 21 points despite having two fouls in the game’s first 17 seconds and three in the first quarter.
The Lions' opponent in the quarterfinals, Eisenhower, looked like a long shot at best to get to the game, considering it entered the fourth quarter of its second-round match-up with Vincentian Academy trailing by 13, 37-24.
But the Lady Knights outscored VA by 25-11 in the fourth quarter to get the 49-48 lead – VA hit a 3-pointer at the end of the game to make the score appear closer than it was. Heather Riel led Eisenhower with 21 points and Taylor Williams added 11. Lindsay Primyon paced Vincentian with 13 tallies and Jackie Coretese added 10.
Farrell earned its spot in the quarterfinals by rolling over WPIAL runner-up Monessen, 77-52, behind 33 points and 10 rebounds from D’Asia Chambers, who scored 25 points in the second half. Christina Chukwuedo led Monessen, which entered the WPIAL playoffs undefeated but lost two of its final three games, with 14 points.
Farrell will take on Avonworth, which rallied past District 9 champion Coudersport, 53-51, in overtime.
Coudersport, which led 47-45 with 36 seconds left in regulation, led 49-47 early in overtime, but Tara Gallupe tied the game at 47 with 3:33 left to play and Lyndsey Costa hit her only basket of the game, a 3-pointer, with 2:57 left, giving the Antelopes the lead for good.
Abbey Francis led Avonworth with 16 points, while Gallupe added 14.
Coudersport had one last chance to tie the game, but Jessica Wilson’s runner from the foul line just before time expired was off for mark.
Kristy Kamper led Coudy, which saw its 26-game win streak snapped, with a game-high 19 points and finished her career with 1,344 points. Wilson added eight points and finished her career with 1,162 points.
Chris Rossetti covers Western Pennsylvania for MaxPreps.com.