Greensburg Central Catholic boys hold off Winchester Thurston, take over 1st place

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Friday, January 28, 2022 | 10:56 PM


Greensburg Central Catholic and Winchester Thurston were scheduled to meet three weeks ago, but that boys basketball game was postponed, so the teams could only study one another from a distance.

“I’m sure both teams have seen each other on film a little bit,” GCC coach Christian Hyland said, “but film doesn’t tell all of the story. So, you kind of measure yourself against other teams in your section, checking the scores (of common opponents) all the time.

“We knew this was a big one for us.”

The co-leaders in Section 3-2A had to wait until Friday night to finally share the court. With 26 seconds left in the fourth quarter, the difference between them was only three points.

Yet, Greensburg Central Catholic made four clutch free throws down the stretch and survived a barrage of fourth-quarter 3-pointers to defeat host Winchester Thurston, 83-76, breaking their first-place tie.

GCC (11-1, 5-0) sits alone atop the section standings with Winchester Thurston (7-4, 4-1) now one game back.

The teams rematch Wednesday in Greensburg.

“We’re right there with them in my opinion,” WT coach Justin Walther said, “but we’ve got to do what we’re supposed to do.”

GCC had four scorers in double figures but saw a 15-point fourth-quarter lead nearly vanish. Brevan Williams and Dylan Parsons scored 21 points each, Tyree Turner had 19 and Ryan Appleby added 12.

Winchester Thurston rallied with late 3s.

Clinging to a 3-point lead, Parsons made two free throws with 23 seconds left, and Appleby added two more at the 14-second mark. Both were one-and-one situations.

GCC had gone 9 for 20 from the line in its previous game, Hyland said, but this time came through with clutch shots. Turner also faced a one-and-one with 53 seconds left and made both.

“That was stressed the last couple of days in practice,” Hyland said. “In big games, you have to make free throws.”

Jackson Juzang led Winchester Thurston with 24 points and topped 1,000 for his career. Lance Nicholls scored 18 points, Luke Lamatina had 13 and Michael Bruni added 12.

Greensburg CC had a clear height advantage, with three starters 6-foot-4 or taller, and used it well. The Centurions out-rebounded Winchester Thurston, 30-19, and turned those boards into second-chance points.

“The two things we stressed were boxing out and taking charges,” Walther said. “We didn’t do either of them. When you play a team that’s so much bigger than we are, you have to do the little stuff.”

GCC’s size was impactful at both ends. Winchester Thurston had trouble with GCC’s zone defense, struggled to find lanes to the basket and trailed 57-45 entering the fourth quarter.

The Centurions had Williams (6-foot-4) and Turner (5-11) defend the front court with Parsons (6-0), Appleby (6-4) and Franco Alvarez (6-5) under the hoop.

“That (zone) is something that we’ve implemented this year,” Hyland said. “In the past I haven’t run too much zone. I’ve usually been a man-to-man guy, but you play to the strengths of your team. We have a little more length this year than we’re accustomed to, so we put in a little Syracuse zone to cover some more ground.”

GCC led 20-17 after the first quarter and 35-31 at half. The lead stretched to 57-45 entering the fourth behind 11 third-quarter points by Williams.

GCC’s largest lead was 62-47 with six minutes left.

Winchester Thurston often settled for long 3-pointers. They made 11, including seven in the fourth quarter to make it a one-possession game in the final minute.

“It’s hard to get out on those,” Hyland said. “I thought we did a good job of forcing them into long 3s. They made a couple late. They shot it pretty well in their home gym, but we were fortunate to come out with one here.”

Winchester Thurston scored 31 points in the fourth quarter alone, matching its entire first-half total. Juzang made consecutive 3s in an 18-second span, the second with 26 seconds left, cutting GCC’s lead to 79-76.

The Bears went 7 for 14 from beyond the arc in the fourth after making only 3 of 16 in the first three.

“We wanted to get into the gaps and try to get downhill,” Walther said. “I think the moment got to us a little bit. The last five minutes we played free and loose.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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