Depth shows for GCC boys basketball team in win over Ligonier Valley

Tuesday, December 14, 2021 | 9:53 PM

Developing depth can be just as important as winning, and Greensburg Central Catholic is doing both as it builds toward section play.

“We feel pretty comfortable with our starting five, so the big thing for us right now is six though 10,” Centurions boys basketball coach Christian Hyland said. “We’re learning a lot about our depth as we go.”

The Centurions, ranked No. 2 in WPIAL Class 2A, made it two wins in their first three games — the second in a row via blowout — as they handled Class 3A Ligonier Valley, 74-34, on Tuesday night in Ligonier.

The starters shined, but they had some help as a solid rotation continued to gain steam.

Sixth man Semelka joined three teammates in double figures with 10 points as GCC (2-1) had nine players score and cruised, three days after toppling 6A Greensburg Salem, 74-25.

Ryan Appleby led the Centurions with 16 points, making 7 of 10 shots. Brevan Williams scored 14, and Dylan Parsons added 10, including three 3-pointers.

Point guard Tyree Turner chipped in eight points.

“We worked on some things tonight,” said Appleby, who guarded Rams standout guard and 1,000-point scorer Matthew Marinchak. “We got some good shots and didn’t play selfish basketball. Things kind of came to me tonight, and I did my job.”

Speaking of developing depth, Ligonier Valley is trying to do the same but for different reasons. The Rams (1-2) played without two starters — seniors Jake Hollick and Dylan Rhoades — and had to bring up three freshmen just to fill out a 10-man roster.

Marinchak fought off double teams to score a game-high 19 points, and Haden Sierocky added 11, the same number the rest of the Rams combined for.

He was honored pregame as the 25th player combined in Laurel Valley and Ligonier Valley history to reach 1,000 points. He has 1,039 and counting.

Coaches from Pitt-Greensburg and Waynesburg were in attendance to watch him play.

But GCC limited his scoring chances and forced others to beat them.

“GCC is a fantastic team,” Ligonier Valley coach Tim Gustin said. “I thought we fought back in the second half and made some adjustments. We’ve been preparing for 3 1/2 weeks with both of those guys in the lineup. We only had one practice (without them).”

Hollick could be out until next month with an ankle injury, and Rhoades has a groin injury.

Miles Higgins just returned from a football injury, so he also is finding his way.

Ligonier Valley came in off a 78-72 win over double-overtime against Valley.

GCC dictated the tempo early by forcing turnovers and scoring in transition. Appleby scored the first six points, Williams threw down a dunk and Parsons hit a 3-pointer for an 11-0 lead.

Williams also made a 3 from the left elbow as the Centurions pushed the advantage to 24-10 after one quarter.

“It can be a different guy every night getting us going,” Hyland said. “We count a lot on our three seniors, but it can be anyone.”

It was 42-19 at the half after Parsons connected on a 3 at the buzzer. Appleby and Anthony Semelka had six each in the second quarter.

Williams netted seven during a 19-point third quarter as GCC increased the margin to 61-30.

GCC, the WPIAL runner-up a year ago, has four more nonsection games before the calendar turns to 2022 and section play starts.

The Centurions will play Sewickley Academy, Norwin, Mt. Pleasant and Bishop Guilfoyle — the latter two in the Greensburg Salem holiday tournament — before they host Winchester Thurston on Jan. 4 to tip Section 2-2A.

Ligonier opens its Section 3-3A schedule Friday night at home against South Allegheny.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at or via Twitter .

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