Alvarez helps lead Greensburg Central Catholic boys to picture-perfect win over Propel Braddock Hills

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Tuesday, February 21, 2023 | 9:03 PM


Greensburg Central Catholic basketball player Franco Alvarez likes to take photographs. It has become his hobby.

He shoots anything from high school sports to sunsets and flowers in his spare time.

The junior forward had an eye on the third quarter in his team’s opening playoff game. And that hot eight-minute stanza was suitable for framing.

No. 4 seed Greensburg Central Catholic put up 33 points in the third after an average first half and dominated No. 13 Propel Braddock Hills, 65-45, in the WPIAL Class 2A first round Tuesday night at Penn-Trafford.

“I got a camera for Christmas, and I enjoy taking photos,” Alvarez said. “I like to shoot basketball because it’s what I know. I also shoot my sister’s volleyball games at Norwin.

“It’s good to get the win. They always say the first game is the hardest.”

Alvarez’s other hobby is taking over quarters. He had 13 of his 21 points in the third as GCC (16-5) played a markedly better half and advanced to Friday’s quarterfinals to play No. 5 Eden Christian (17-5).

Section 3 champion GCC has nine straight wins as it heads to the quarters for a third straight year.

“We didn’t feel like we were dominating like we wanted to,” Alvarez said about a so-so, 28-18 halftime lead. “We’re better when we move the ball and get everybody involved.”

Propel (10-13) went to a full-court press, and GCC pounced, using rebounds and run-outs to stretch its lead.

“We were just flowing,” said GCC junior guard Tyree Turner, who had a team-high 22 points and made four 3-pointers. “We talked about it at halftime. Coach Christian (Hyland) was good cop, and coach Eddie (Zimmerlink) let us have it and got us fired up.

“We saw that press on film and worked on it. It was like practice. We wanted to get rebounds and go.”

Alvarez made a number of uncontested shots inside, some on putbacks, and shot 6 for 8 in the third, including a 3-pointer from the corner.

“He scores in bunches,” Hyland said. “He has quarters where he just comes alive, when we need it.”

As GCC tried to keep Propel senior guard Giontae Clemmons in check, the Centurions juiced up the pace and extended their advantage.

Clemmons finished with 23 points, 13 in the second half.

A jumper by sophomore guard Liam Gallagher and a 3 from Turner made it 54-28 late in the third.

Freshman Samir Crosby, who had 10 points on several hard drives down the lane in his playoff debut, scored on a break before sophomore Sean Walker made 3 as GCC took a 61-31 lead to the fourth.

“Our guys have a lot of speed. … we want to get up and down,” Hyland said. “We rebounded a ton better in the second half, and we were strong on outlets.”

Turner was a tone-setter early when he scored 15 straight points in the first half, including a pair of 3-pointers.

“Tyree takes care of the ball and finds open guys,” Hyland said. “It’s good to be moving on.”

Senior Ben Mayhew scored 15 for the Lions. Take away Clemmons and Mayhew, and the rest of the team combined for six.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.

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