Greensburg CC ends Monessen’s winning streak, earns rematch with OLSH in Class 2A

Friday, February 25, 2022 | 10:20 PM

Greensburg Central Catholic’s team size has been a problem for opponents all season.

For a few moments early in their playoff game Friday night, the Centurions looked average-sized.

But after falling behind, the fourth-seeded Centurions quickly rose to their full height.

They went on to dispatch of No. 5 Monessen’s 16-game winning streak and jump back into the final four with a 61-42 victory in a WPIAL Class 2A boys basketball quarterfinal at Norwin.

“We eased into this game a little,” said GCC senior Ryan Appleby, who scored a game-high 20 points. “We settled down a little bit, picked up our defense and everything kind of fell into place.”

Senior Brevan Williams added 19 points, 12 in the fourth quarter, and sophomore Tyree Turner fouled out with 11 for GCC (18-3), which outscored the streaking Greyhounds (19-5) in the second half, 33-18.

The Centurions got what they’ve wanted for nearly a year: another shot at top dog Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (21-0), which ran its WPIAL-record winning streak to 61 with a 87-44 victory over Sto-Rox in another quarterfinal.

OLSH, the three-time defending WPIAL champion, beat GCC in last year’s WPIAL final, 71-52.

The teams will play Tuesday in the semifinals at a time and site to be determined.

GCC also qualified for the PIAA playoffs. Monessen (18-5) can make the state bracket if GCC beats OLSH.

“We treated the middle of the zone differently, we got some rebounds, and that led to easy baskets,” GCC coach Christian Hyland said. “The thing with Monessen is they play so hard, there are hands everywhere and it takes a lot to adjust to how they play. We haven’t seen length and speed like that.

“We got a feel for what they do and that helped us get going.”

But GCC’s length caused bigger problems. The team has four players 6-foot-3 or taller.

Appleby and Williams are 6-4, sophomore Franco Alvarez is 6-5, and sophomore reserve Anthony Semelka is 6-3.

“Their height really bothered us all night,” Monessen coach Dan Bosnic said. “We got some shots we wanted, but it came down to their ability to make shots and our inability to make (outside) shots.”

Monessen was looking to get back to the semifinals for the first time since 2018-19.

After falling behind 10-2, GCC went on a 20-2 run in the first half to build a 22-12 advantage.

Turner banged in a 3-pointer, Semelka, who played big minutes and scored seven, converted a three-point play, and Appleby hit consecutive hoops during the surge.

Sophomore Lorenzo Gardner kept Monessen close, scoring half of his team-high 16 in the second quarter to get the Greyhounds within 28-24 at halftime.

Most of GCC’s damage in the first half was a result of fast-break points.

Gardner cut the deficit to two early in the third, but GCC ended the quarter on a 13-4 run to increase its lead to 41-30.

The fourth quarter was the punctuation mark as the Centurions outscored the Greyhounds, 20-12, stretching the margin behind Williams, who converted a three-point play and scored on a cut before sophomore Franco Alvarez hit a layup to make it 53-38.

Williams had a pair of and-ones in the fourth.

“That is what we expect from him,” Hyland said of Williams. “Ryan has been solid for us all year. I liked our energy off the bench.”

The lead swelled to 21 inside the final two minutes.

Junior forward Jaisean Blackman added 14 points for Monessen.

“I’m proud of our kids,” Bosnic said. “We came into this year with very little experience. It was a huge challenge and we made it this far. We’ll be rooting for GCC.”

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

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