Helm’s hot hand leads No. 7 Greensburg Central Catholic past Geibel in WPIAL 1st round

Thursday, February 14, 2019 | 1:30 AM

Members of Greensburg Central Catholic’s boys basketball team knew senior Geoff Helm would have to figure into an opening-round playoff victory.

But the team didn’t plan on seeing a second quarter like the one Helm had on Friday night.

Helm, a Shippensburg recruit, poured in 14 of his game-high 29 points — consecutively — in the second frame Friday night to power the No. 7-seeded Centurions past No. 10 Geibel, 62-35, at Charleroi.

The long-bodied Helm scored on layups, 3-pointers and short jumpers for GCC (17-6), which advances to play No. 2 Cornell (18-4) in the WPIAL Class A quarterfinals Thursday at a time and site to be determined.

GCC has won 10 games in a row.

“It took a little while to adjust to their zone,” Helm said. “But I think as we slowed it down and saw things out and ran our game … rebounds and push it forward. That’s our game. I let the game come to me and didn’t force anything.”

Helm made 6 of 8 shots in the second as GCC outscored the Gators (11-12), 18-7.

It was 15-12 in favor of GCC when Helm found his rhythm. A 9-0 run, started by a layup from Max Pisula, allowed GCC to extend its advantage to 22-12.

It was 29-15 at halftime.

“Geoff really ran the floor well tonight,” GCC coach Greg Bisignani said. “We got a lot of buckets in transition. That’s one thing we’ve been working on: get to the rim first, then hit your shot second. Geoff got into a rhythm and the rest of the team started going from there.”

Geibel, which led early at 6-2, tried to rally with 3-pointers after GCC took command.

Helm, who transferred from Blairsville last year when GCC missed the playoffs for the first time in 17 years, had 10 in the second half.

“It feels good to move on,” Helm said. “My teammates really helped me tonight. They were giving me looks so I kept going. They weren’t stopping me so I kept going.”

Geibel coach Don Porter, the former coach at Mt. Pleasant, was pleased to see his team hang around GCC, but the Gators couldn’t get shots to fall in rhythm and sustain runs.

“We were going to give Helm his 30,” Porter said. “But we wanted to try to stop everybody else. It didn’t work as planned. We were getting shots but they weren’t falling.”

While the Gators couldn’t get the deficit under double figures in the second half, they made five 3s in the third to get within 11 (43-32).

Geibel was punching at the air in the fourth as GCC started the quarter with a 15-0 run to take a 26-point advantage at 58-32.

Tommy Erdely’s 3 made it a 20-point game.

“The playoff atmosphere is different,” Bisignani said. “Until you have been there and experienced it, you can’t really explain it. It doesn’t matter who you’re playing, everybody is going to come and play hard. We had some bad turnovers (early). I thought if we played hard for four quarters we had a pretty good chance.”

Brandon Brown, one of several reserves to score for GCC, made it 62-32. GCC outscored the Gators, 19-3, in the fourth.

Geibel made seven 3-pointers. Kaeleb Lehman finished with 12 points, on four 3s, and Ryan Anderson scored 10.

“We wanted to make sure we contested their shots,” Bisignani said.

The game started 40 minutes late because of a foul-plagued girls game that saw Winchester Thurston edge past Frazier, 60-56.

Geibel junior Enzo Fetsko (19.8 ppg) came in needing 24 points to reach 1,000 for his career.

He finished with five points.

Eight players scored for GCC. Pisula had seven and Joel LoNigro added six.

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