Big second half helps Bethel Park past Peters Township

Friday, January 3, 2020 | 10:55 PM

Bethel Park enjoyed a monster second half, wiping out a nine-point deficit to Peters Township at the half as the Black Hawks soared to a 70-60 triumph over the visiting Indians.

The win was the fifth in six games for Bethel Park, which improved to 2-0 in Section 2-6A, matching the number of section wins the Hawks had all of last year.

“It wasn’t the way we had it scripted,” Bethel Park coach Josh Bears said. “We’ll take it any way we can get it.”

It was a frustrating start for the hosts. The Black Hawks trailed the entire first quarter until grabbing a 12-10 lead in the final seconds of the period.

Peters Township then scored the first 11 points of the second quarter and took a 32-23 lead into the locker room.

A team averaging nearly 76 points per game was held to 23 first-half points with top-scoring senior Ryan Meis and Tom DiRienzo being held to nine and four points respectively.

“We wanted this to be an up-tempo game,” Bears said. “I said before the game if this score is in the 30s or 20s at halftime, we weren’t going to be real happy.

“We had a variety of things we wanted to do to open the floor up and try to get out and run, and we scored 47 points in the second half.”

Bethel Park used its depth in the second half to come with full-court pressure and half-court traps that led to the Black Hawks finally taking the lead for good, 43-42, with 36 seconds left in the third quarter.

“The nine-point disadvantage at halftime was not a concern,” Bears said. “We have four close losses, two of which were in overtime, so we were right there.”

Meis scored 17 second-half points, including 10 in the pivotal third quarter to end up with a game high 26.

“Meis is my favorite Bethel Park player ever,” said Bethel Park grad and current Peters Township coach Gary Goga. “He’s the best the school has seen and he’s a tireless worker. I’m happy for the kid.”

DiRienzo had a python-like fourth quarter, where he squeezed the life out of the Indians by going 12 of 13 from the free throw line and ending up with 18 points.

“There’s no pressure for those guys,” Bears said of his team’s free throw shooting success. “We’re at around 85, 86% as a team.”

The win sets up an early section showdown on Tuesday when Bethel Park hosts defending WPIAL champion Mt. Lebanon (2-0, 8-3).

“We earned that right,” Bears said. “I’m happy that we’re home where we’re playing better and better. We know what we’re going to get. They do what they do.”

With the loss, Peters Township (0-2, 6-4) ends a five-game winning streak. The Indians were led by senior Sam Petrarca’s 14 points. Colin Cote had 13 and Julian Mascio added 11 for PT.

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