Greensburg Central Catholic boys pull away from Jeannette in chippy game between rivals

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Friday, January 6, 2023 | 11:08 PM


Tension built, and tempers flared.

Student sections belted out their best chants, and fans bent the referees’ ears.

A packed gym was so loud, players could barely hear whistles, and there were plenty of whistles.

All told, it was nothing new for a Jeannette-Greensburg Central Catholic boys basketball game in Carbon.

It also had a factor that has helped decide so many other games between the bitter rivals over the years: composure.

Five technical fouls and 51 free throws after the opening tip, the host Centurions pulled away for a 75-60 victory over the rival Jayhawks on Friday night in Section 3-2A.

“It was chippy, and we knew it would be like that,” GCC coach Christian Hyland said. “I don’t think it was anything (mean-spirited). It’s just how these games go.”

GCC (7-4, 3-1), which has won five of six, scored 28 points in the fourth quarter, 14 coming from forward Franco Alvarez, who finished with a game-high 20.

Tyree Turner added 17 points, and freshman Samir Crosby, who is from Jeannette, had 13, including eight in the third quarter.

After a thrilling quarter-court buzzer-beater from Isaiah Mallich at the end of the first half, Jeannette (6-4, 1-2) took a 25-21 deficit into halftime.

The Jayhawks, who have lost three of four, cut it to 27-26 early in the third on a 3-pointer by Giovanni Merola, who had a team-high 16 points.

But just as Crosby started to heat up — he scored off a steal to push GCC’s lead to 37-28 — Jeannette was hit with two technicals inside the last 1 minute, 40 seconds of the third, one on the bench and another on Shane Mickens, who picked up a second one in the fourth and had to sit.

Mickens, who had 14 points, will be suspended for the team’s next game.

The technicals appeared to be for verbal actions.

“In that magnitude of a game … I understand calling it close, but let the kids play,” Jeannette coach Adrian Batts said. “I am not taking away anything from GCC. They played well. Franco had a big fourth quarter, and they made their free throws. But I felt like I couldn’t coach my team.”

Crosby’s big third gave GCC a spark.

“He wasn’t feeling the pressure,” Hyland said. “He’s very mature beyond his years.”

GCC wasn’t innocent. It was whistled for a pair of technicals — late in the third and midway through the fourth — on Braden Riley (physical) and Ryan Kimmel (verbal).

“We rebounded better in the second half, and we gave them too many second- and third-chance points in the first half,” Hyland said. “When we started getting rebounds, it allowed us to run.”

In a physical game against Jeannette’s taller post players, Kimmel fouled out with seven points.

The Centurions seemed to thrive when Jeannette ran into adversity.

“It allowed us to slow the game down, and it killed their momentum,” Turner said.

Turner knocked in a 3-pointer to make it 43-32, and the lead never fell below double figures from there.

Jaydin Canady scored on a fast break just before the second technical on Jeannette.

“You can’t give GCC those possessions after you come up empty,” Batts said. “We missed too many layups.”

Jalen Bass completed a three-point play for Jeannette to make it 50-40 early in the fourth. The teams spent most of the final quarter in the double bonus.

Alvarez made a number of uncontested shots going to the rim to keep GCC comfortably in front.

His and-1 with 1:30 left gave GCC a 21-point advantage, 74-54.

“It was a statement for us,” Turner said. “Everybody thought we were down for the count when we lost to Riverview.”

GCC made 17 of 28 free throws to Jeannette’s 17-for-23 effort. After shooting 5 for 14 from the line in the third, GCC made 8 of 10 in the fourth.

Mallich finished with 10 points. He and Merola made a pair of 3s each.

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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