Greensburg Central Catholic tops Monessen in nonsection opener

Friday, December 7, 2018 | 10:33 PM


Mistake- and foul-filled action made it evident it was the first game of a long basketball season Friday at Monessen High School.

In the end, though, it was Greensburg Central Catholic coming out on top with a 63-59 win in the coaching debuts of the Centurions’ Greg Bisignani and Greyhounds’ Dan Bosnic.

The two teams combined for 68 fouls (34 each), 77 free throws and more than 50 turnovers in the contest.

“Obviously, we have to get better,” Bisignani said following the win. “We had a lot of situations where we had the wrong player in the wrong place, but those are things we will work on and clean up.”

After trailing 17-10 at the end of the first quarter, the Centurions (1-0) battled back to tie the game 29-29 at the half.

“We put ourselves in a bad position and had some guys not in the right spots because of all the fouls,” Bosnic said. “We can’t continue to turn the ball over like we did.”

The Centurions broke a close game open by outscoring the Greyhounds, 20-10, in the third quarter. A 7-0 run near the end of the frame helped them out to a 49-39 margin heading into the fourth quarter.

Geoff Helm led the way for GCC with 16 points; nine came in the second half.

The key run came right after Monessen’s Dishon Howell scored on a putback to pull the Greyhounds to within two at 40-38.

“We have seven seniors back from last year’s team,” said Bisignani, in his second stint as GCC’s head coach. “We are confident we can rely on them in a close game like this. They led us back from a deficit in the first half. While they know they didn’t play well, we’re going to keep getting better.”

The Greyhounds (0-1) trailed by 11 (54-43) with just over five minutes remaining and began chipping into the Centurions’ lead.

Elijahwa Payne, who finished with a game-high 19 points in three quarters of action, hit a pair of free throws before Darnel Howell followed with a 3-pointer from the corner to cut the lead down to 54-48.

GCC’s Joel Lonigro hit a trey at the 3:17-mark to push the lead back to nine after the teams exchanged baskets.

Vaughn Taylor and Payne combined to go 3 of 4 from the line to cut the lead back to 59-53.

The Centurions’ Jacob Biros hit 1 of 2 from the line to make it 60-53 with 1:16 remaining.

Payne, who notched a double-double with 11 rebounds, scored on a putback and was fouled on the play, but he couldn’t complete the three-point play. Freshman guard Devin Whitlock picked up his fifth steal of the game, though, on GCC’s ensuing possession and took it coast to coast to make it 60-57 with 41 seconds remaining.

After an ill-advised shot on the offensive end for GCC, Whitlock was fouled and went to the line. He hit 1 of 2 to make it 60-58.

The Centurions had a chance to put it away at the line with 27 seconds to go, but Ryan Bisignani missed a pair of free throws and gave Monessen a chance to tie.

Whitlock sliced to the baseline and scored, but he was whistled for an offensive foul and fouled out of the game.

Biros sunk a pair with three seconds remaining to put the game away.

“I’m proud of how hard our guys played,” Greg Bisignani said. “They came in here to a tough place to play and beat a good Monessen team. They’re going to be real good this season.

“This is what you want to see from your team in a close game. We’ll take the win, but we have to get better.”

Jeremy Sellew is a Mon Valley Independent staff writer.

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