Greensburg Central Catholic boys correct course after early season loss

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Thursday, January 28, 2021 | 6:05 PM


When Greensburg Central Catholic lost by a point to Jeannette earlier this month, 47-46, the Centurions took some stock in themselves and re-racked.

The defeat, however early in the season it was, did not demonstrate the Centurions’ best traits. You might even call it an anomaly, second-year coach Christian Hyland pondered.

“It was early, yes,” Hyland said. “But who knows? Maybe it was the best thing for us. Maybe we weren’t as far along as we thought we were.”

Since GCC ripped off the band-aid, it has won five games in a row — by an average of 24 points — and vaulted into the No. 5 spot in the Triblive HSSN Class 2A rankings.

Not bad for a bounce back.

“As a team, we believe we’re better than all the teams we play,” junior guard Dylan Parsons said. “We took a hard loss to Jeannette, but we saw what we needed to do to improve. You could see after that loss that we were on a mission to pump out more wins.”

GCC, which takes a 6-1 record (3-1 in Section 3-2A) into Friday’s game against Winchester Thurston, its fifth straight at home, flipped a switch offensively to the tune of 70.5 points per game in its six wins.

“We still have a long way to go,” Hyland said when asked if his team has played its best game. “We’re starting to run the floor more but the question is, ‘Are we going to defend, rebound and be physical?’”

Those are elements the Centurions know they’ll need to be successful in the WPIAL playoffs. They were upset in the Class A first round last year by Eden Christian.

Junior forward Brevan Williams has had a pair of 25-plus-point games and leads the team in scoring with a 19-point average, to go with 8.3 rebounds. He is shooting an impressive 68% from the field.

“Brevan has been playing well for us,” Hyland said. “We knew he would be a key scorer and rebounder.”

Senior Christian McGowan is scoring 15 a game and grabbing 6.1 rebounds, while Parsons (8.6) and senior Dylan Sebek (7.9) are other scorers for a team whose bench stretches up to eight players deep.

McGowan said Williams takes some of the offensive pressure off of him.

“It’s always nice to have someone else who can score,” McGowan said.

While free throw shooting has been a hindrance to GCC, the team is ready to make changes in schemes and personnel to win.

“We made some adjustments and lineup changes after the Jeannette game,” Hyland said. “We played Clairton (two days after Jeannette) and I think we needed that quick turnaround so the loss didn’t linger.”

GCC handled Clairton (71-35) and Serra Catholic (72-57) to pull into a three-way tie for first in Section 3 with Jeannette and Winchester Thurston. Nonsection wins over Frazier, Geibel and Monessen followed.

“We played a lot of games together last year, so we’re familiar with each other,” Parsons said. “There is a comfort with our styles. Anybody can go off for 20 points any night. Even our bench guys aren’t far off.”

Teams become better defensively as more film on opponents gets around. Hyland’s team has become accustomed to seeing a particular scheme.

“About 80% of the defenses we’ve seen have been zone,” he said. “Jeannette went man on us. We might see more man again, so we need to be ready for that.”

GCC had some issues with covid-19 tracing earlier in the season but has avoided any shutdowns since Gov. Tom Wolf’s three-week pause of high school sports ended Jan. 4. GCC is back to full-time, in-person learning.

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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