Early loss jolts Greensburg Central Catholic boys into form

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Thursday, December 29, 2022 | 11:01 AM


Wake-up calls don’t always happen early enough in the season for a team to react and recover.

But in Greensburg Central Catholic’s case, a 58-54 upset loss to Riverview that gave the Centurions the boot from the TribLive HSSN Class 2A rankings produced a lesson learned.

“It’s your first section game, and it’s on the road,” GCC coach Christian Hyland said. “You drop it, and it kind of puts you in your place right away.”

GCC (4-4, 1-1) bounced back nicely with back-to-back wins over Serra Catholic (72-70) and Hempfield (51-48) leading into the Greensburg Salem Holiday Tournament. GCC dropped its opener in that event 64-56 to Bishop Guilfoyle.

“We’re not inexperienced, but at the same time, we are,” Hyland said. “Our bench is all sophomores. It’s a learning experience for everybody. Our new guys are learning. Some of the things they saw in JV games don’t happen in the 7:30 games.”

Hyland is trying to develop depth while finding chemistry in a starting five that includes football players Ryan Kimmel and Jaydin Canady.

They join Tyree Turner, Samir Crosby and Franco Alvarez. Crosby is a first-year starter.

Turner has been one of the top players in the class, and Alvarez is giving teams matchup problems in the post.

“I figured we’d be running 10 or 11 (deep),” Hyland said. “We’ve been closer to seven or eight. If games get close, the bench get tight.”

Alvarez said the team is trying to build leadership.

“The last couple years, we lost some guys who brought us tighter as a team,” he said. “We need to find that chemistry overall.”

The Centurions have been facing plenty of 2-3 zone defense, which has slowed their pace and forced them to move in the half-court for quality scoring chances.

But against Riverview, they shot 1 for 22 from 3-point range and went 11 for 24 from the foul line.

Against Serra, the free-throw shooting was better (18-for 22), but they were 2 of 11 from 3.

“When teams play zone on us, it points a spotlight and shows we need to improve our shooting,” Alvarez said.

GCC has a tough nonsection schedule. Hempfield is a Class 6A team, and the Centurions also defeated Class 5A Penn-Trafford (62-51) and lost to 5A Franklin Regional (48-34).

“It’s good to get that challenge early,” Hyland said. “I have been really pleased with our guys’ effort. We haven’t shot it well, but we’ll find a rhythm. With these guys, I know we always have a fighting shot.”

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

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