Greensburg Central Catholic boys get much-anticipated rematch with OLSH in WPIAL semifinals

Sunday, February 27, 2022 | 5:48 PM

Greensburg Central Catholic players and coaches watched Our Lady of the Sacred Heart celebrate a WPIAL boys basketball title last year at Peters Township — right in front of them.

The dog pile celebration followed a 71-52 victory over the Centurions in the Class 2A final.

As if GCC needed to be reminded.

Like a toothache that won’t go away, the defeat has bothered the team for nearly a year.

But a rematch looms.

“Coach told us after that game, ‘We’ll be back here again,’ ” GCC senior guard Brevan Williams said. “We’ve been wanting to play them again for a while.”

GCC (18-3) gets its chance at redemption Tuesday when it takes on mighty OLSH (21-0) in the WPIAL semifinals at 8 p.m. at Gateway in Monroeville.

GCC is the No. 4 seed, so one wouldn’t think a win would be such a huge upset. But look at the Chargers’ list of accolades and you quickly change your thinking. At this point, a win would be monumental for any opponent of the Chargers.

They have:

• A 61-game winning streak.

• Three straight WPIAL titles.

• A WPIAL-leading 78-points-per-game average.

• Five straight WPIAL finals appearances.

• A 2,000-point career scorer in senior guard Jake DiMichele.

“They’ve been in the back of our minds all year,” GCC senior guard Ryan Appleby said. “They just score so fast. I remember we started to come back, and in the third quarter, I looked up and we were down 17.”

GCC found itself trailing Monessen, 10-2, early in Friday’s 61-42 quarterfinal win. Falling behind early against OLSH could spell doom. The team seems to have another gear.

“We need to start strong and play hard the whole game,” Williams said. “I think our size will help us.”

Both teams have size, though.

Appleby and Williams, who scored 20 and 19 against Monessen, are both 6-foot-4.

Sophomores Franco Alvarez (6-5) and Anthony Semelka (6-3) also bring height.

But OLSH has 6-5 senior Dawson Summers, 6-3 junior Bryson Kirschner and 6-3 Kevin Wilson.

DiMichele, who had 51 points in a game this year, also is 6-3.

“I think it’s a better matchup for us size-wise,” GCC coach Christian Hyland said. “We just have to stay patient when they make runs. When they do make runs, we have to limit how harsh they are. We can’t allow 10- and 11-0 runs.”

GCC played with OLSH early in last year’s final, trailing 16-11 after the first quarter and getting within 20-19 in the second before trailing 33-26 at halftime.

“We were down four with (1:30 left), and we turned it over twice to end the half,” Hyland said.

It was 40-37 in the third before a 12-4 run gave the Chargers command for good.

Williams had 18 points, Appleby added 11 and then-freshman Tyree Turner had 10.

“Ryan had a really good championship game,” Hyland said. “He has done a complete 180 from the time he started last year until now.”

DiMichele scored 19, and star senior Dante Spadafora, now at West Liberty, had a game-high 25 in the three-peat win.

The winner will play either No. 2 Fort Cherry (22-2) or No. 3 Carlynton (20-2) — Section 2 opponents who will meet in the other semifinal — in the championship at 1 p.m. March 5 at Pitt’s Petersen Events Center.

GCC is looking to make the finals for the fourth time in school history. The Centurions have not won a WPIAL title in boys basketball.

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

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