Greensburg Central Catholic boys vow to ‘Compete!’ in PIAA 2nd-round matchup with Ridgway

Friday, March 11, 2022 | 5:24 PM

Christian Hyland had three things written on the locker room dry-erase board Wednesday night at Conemaugh Township. Three things he figured a state playoff win might boil down to.

The Greensburg Central Catholic boys basketball coach scribbled down: “Run; Tall on D; Compete!”

Item No. 3 was in caps and double-underlined, so it must have been extra important.

“We didn’t compete when we played (Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in the WPIAL semifinals),” Hyland said. “We kind of gave in after we fell down big. We needed to get back to competing again.”

The Centurions (19-4) not only competed in their PIAA Class 2A playoff opener at Conemaugh Township, but they also found a way to persevere after their 19-point lead went out the window in the fourth quarter.

Sophomore guard Tyree Turner drove in from midcourt and kissed a layup off the backboard with a nifty scoop shot as time expired to lift GCC to a 62-60 win over the District 5 champion Indians before a standing-room-only crowd.

“We had to ask ourselves, do we want to keep playing?” Hyland said. “I think they still want to be here and be around each other. It’s a fun time of year.”

The Centurions will look to keep their competition level sharp when they take on Ridgway (21-5), the champion of District 9, at 5:30 p.m. Saturday in a second-round game at Clarion University.

The GCC players were still over the moon after Turner’s clutch layup.

“Coach is good at drawing up plays,” said Turner, who had 11 points in the first-round win. “I got to the middle, Franco passed me the ball and I drove the lane.”

Hyland knew he wanted the ball in Turner’s hands at the end. That was the case despite the fact GCC had dominated inside with its taller guards, Ryan Appleby and Brevan Williams, as well as sophomore forward Franco Alvarez.

“We had some pick-up play at practice the other day, teams of 5-on-5,” Hyland said. “Tyree’s team won a lot.”

Appleby and Williams each had 18 points in the group’s first PIAA playoff game. GCC hadn’t been in the state bracket since 2016-17, when it reached the quarterfinals with Greg Bisignani as coach.

“We had a good start,” Hyland said. “It was a better start for us. We got a lot of points in the paint.”

GCC shook off a brilliant final quarter from Conemaugh Township, which put up 28 points after scoring 32 across the first three quarters.

“This was fun,” Turner said. “It was cool to play in front of a packed gym like that, in that kind of environment. We have to have maturity … watch film to see what gave us the lead and why we gave it away.”

GCC won’t dare look past Ridgway but can’t help but peel back the curtain to peek at who might be next in the bracket, should they advance.

Yes, it might be their nemesis, OLSH (24-0), which plays Carlynton (21-3) in another second-round game Saturday.

OLSH, the four-time defending WPIAL champion and defending PIAA champion, has won 64 straight games. Two of those wins were against GCC, in last year’s WPIAL final and this year’s semis.

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


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