Helm-led Greensburg Central Catholic rallies past St. Joseph

Friday, January 18, 2019 | 10:27 PM

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Greensburg Central Catholic exacted some revenge on first-place St. Joseph, but it did not come easy.

The host Centurions had to piece together a second-half rally to regain control and take down the Spartans, 62-54, on Friday night in Section 3-A boys basketball.

Senior guard Geoff Helm scored a game-high 25 points, nine in the fourth quarter, and senior forward Max Pisula added 14 for GCC (8-6, 4-3), which trailed by 12 in the first half but outscored the Spartans, 16-5, in the third quarter.

Using a guard-oriented lineup and an opportunistic defense, the Centurions held serve on their home floor.

“The first two minutes are the most important, of the third quarter,” said Helm, a Shippensburg recruit who had seven rebounds. “As a team, we came out, outplayed them, worked harder, rebounded, and played smarter than them. We broke them down on defense.”

St. Joseph (11-5, 5-2) won the first meeting, 72-63, as Helm scored 26 before fouling out with about seven minutes to go for GCC, and Andrew Sullivan had 25 for the Spartans.

This time, Matt Arvay scored 14, Grant Bendis added 13 and Chris Singleton chipped in 12 for St. Joseph, which battled foul trouble and lacked scoring consistency in the third.

“We went dry for a while there and it hurt us,” St. Joseph coach Kelly Robinson said. “Every time I looked up, it was like we were stuck on 29 (points). We have enough guys who can take over for us, we just had a tough stretch.”

Arvay scored 11 points in the opening quarter, including three 3-pointers, to give the Spartans a 19-13 lead.

Singleton, a freshman, connected on a corner 3 early in the second quarter, and then made three free throws after he was fouled on another long-range attempt, to stretch the advantage to 27-15.

Singleton made 9 of 9 free throws in the second.

“We dug ourselves a hole,” GCC coach Greg Bisignani said. “We had to sort of adjust our defense a little bit and make sure we were getting out on the shooters a little bit better. I think our defense really was able to get us back in the game.”

Bisignani, an orthopedic surgeon, didn’t get to the gym until moments before the junior varsity game after he finished a day’s worth of procedures.

His team operated well enough to break a two-game losing streak.

“We need to take each game individually … and keep getting better,” Bisignani said. “It’s not as important where you’re playing in January. It’s how good you’re playing in February. If you lose at home, you’re digging bigger holes.”

The Centurions chipped away at a 12-point deficit, using an 11-2 run to get within 31-29.

Helm scored 12 points in the second, including six straight.

GCC regained its footing in the third with better offensive flow and a face-guarding defense.

“We kept disciplined on defense,” Helm said. “Defense turns into rebounds and more possessions for us.”

Joel LoNigro, who added nine points, scored off a steal and Helm finished a fast break to give the Centurions a 38-34 lead.

Pisula made a pair of putbacks to stretch it to 46-36.

A 7-0 by the Spartans trimmed it to 49-45 early in the fourth.

But the Centurions stayed ahead the rest of the way, even when emphatic Grant Bendis tipped in back-to-back misses to make it 54-53 with 1:36 to go. Bendis fouled out.

Pisula finished a fast break with a layup for some breathing room with 55 seconds remaining to make it 58-53.

Helm made 9 of 13 free throws, including 6 of 8 in the fourth.

“There was a time there when we cut it to one (54-53), and they missed a foul shot, but we turned it over and they kind of took control,” Robinson said. “As tough as it is to come (to GCC) and get a win, I thought our kids played hard and battled back.”

Bill Beckner is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bill at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BillBeckner.

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

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