Indiana Wins First WPIAL Basketball Title in Dramatic Fashion Over Beaver Falls

Friday, February 27, 2015 | 11:17 PM

In another fantastic finish at the Petersen Events Center, the No. 5 Indiana Little Indians (24-2) claimed their first WPIAL basketball championship with a 62-61 comeback win over the No. 2 Beaver Falls Tigers (22-3) on Friday night in the Class AAA title tilt.

Senior Riley Stapleton hit an open layup with 1.5 seconds remaining to give the Little Indians the winning margin. Stapleton said he knew he was going to get the ball, as Indiana had a chance to win it after Beaver Falls freshman Torian Leak was tied up with 20.1 seconds to play. The possession arrow favored Indiana, setting up the game-winning basket.

The Little Indians rallied from a nine-point deficit in the fourth quarter, but back-to-back three-pointers from junior Dylan Stapleton and senior Blake Shields cut the Beaver Falls lead to three points. The Tigers had a chance to put the game away, but sophomore Donovan Jeter and senior Javon Turner both hit one-of-two free throws, leaving Indiana a chance to come back with 1:20 to play.

Trailing 59-54, Indiana got a driving layup from Dylan Stapleton. Moments later, he converted two free throws to cut the lead to one. Sophomore Josh Creach put the Tigers back up with a three point play with 39.5 ticks on the clock. But Indiana Junior Jacob Zilinskas was fouled and hit two three free throws to set up the outstanding finish.

Indiana jumped out to a 7-0 lead to start the game, as a Riley Stapleton score with 4:51 left forced Beaver Falls head coach Doug Biega to take a timeout. The Tigers rallied to tie the game in the second, and took the lead on a Jeter put back. Indiana came back again to take the lead on back-to-back three-pointers by senior Kevin Jacks.

The Tigers pulled away in the third quarter, Keyan Gibson, the hero of the New Castle semifinal win with the game-winning triple, would hit another, giving Beaver Falls a 46-41 lead after three. Beaver Falls scored the first four points of the fourth quarter to take that nine point lead. But, in the end, the Little Indians fought back and claimed the win.

The Little Indians, now 24-2, were led by Zilinskas with 16 points. Dylan Stapleton added 14, Shields scored 12 and grabbed five rebounds and Riley Stapleton scored 9 points and led with 8 rebounds. Indiana will meet the South Fayette Lions in the first round of the PIAA playoffs next Friday. The Little Indians shot 22-of-47 from the field, hitting on seven three pointers and were 11 of 12 from the charity stripe.

Beaver Falls saw a 14 game winning streak come to an end, as the Tigers fall to 22-3 overall. Creach scored 26 points and led with 15 rebounds and four blocked shots. Jeter scored 12 points and pulled down 7 boards, while Gibson added 11. The Tigers were 27-of-57 from the field, including 4-of-18 from behind the arc. Beaver Falls was 3-of-8 from the line. The Tigers will take on Meadville, a 58-54 overtime winner over Girard earlier on Friday in the District 10 third place game.

Score By Quarters:
Beaver Falls Tigers    13 – 15 – 18 – 15 = 61
Indiana Little Indians 17 – 15 – 9 – 21 = 62



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