Jeannette boys slog through victory over Brentwood

Friday, December 14, 2018 | 10:18 PM

A potentially high-scoring WPIAL boys basketball game turned into a snoozer at Jeannette, where the third-ranked Jayhawks muddled their way to a 52-40 victory over Brentwood on Friday night.

“We got off to a great start,” Jeannette coach Adrian Batts said. “Then, we stopped doing what we were doing. We stopped following the game plan. We stopped doing what we worked on in practice.”

It’s early, and it’s correctible, Batts surmised.

Jackson Pruitt and A.J. Sharp scored 16 points apiece, and Jeannette (3-1, 1-0) opened Section 2-2A play with a home victory, the Jayhawks’ third consecutive win. The loss was the third in a row for Brentwood (1-3, 0-1).

Jeannette, which will play Class 5A Greensburg Salem on Saturday afternoon at the Westmoreland County Coaches’ Association Showcase at Hempfield, jumped to a 20-10 first-quarter lead and never was threatened.

Brentwood, however, stayed in the Jayhawks’ rear-view mirror throughout.

“We hung around,” Brentwood coach Dan Thayer said. “If we can hang around with that group, we can hang around with anybody in our section. Jeannette and Serra Catholic probably are the teams to beat.”

Brentwood was led by Antonio Harris with 12 points. C.J. Ziegler added 11 for the Spartans, who lost eight seniors from a team that qualified for the WPIAL playoffs a year ago.

“A game like this early on is really good for us,” Thayer said. “We were shuffling guys in and out, looking for combinations that will work. It’s just getting a lot of guys the varsity experience they need to compete at this level.”

After Jeannette built a double-digit lead in the first quarter, thanks to four 3-point shots — three by Sharp — both teams went cold.

Jeannette scored a total of 18 points over the next two periods, two fewer than the Jayhawks’ first-quarter total. But Brentwood’s offense struggled, too. The Spartans scored just five second-quarter points before pulling within 31-23 on Harris’ 3-pointer.

Jeannette led after three, 38-28.

“Brentwood wanted to play half court,” Batts said. “We knew they’d come out in a (1-3-1) zone, so that’s what we practiced for. But we got away from everything we know. It bothered us, but we got through it.”

Batts already was turning his attention to Greensburg Salem, the Jayhawks’ next opponent at 5:15 p.m. Saturday at Hempfield. He said his team needs to be tested early by schools in higher classifications.

The Jayhawks lost their opener to Class 5A No. 4 McKeesport before winning their next three games, including a victory over Class 4A Belle Vernon.

“We’ll take this win and work on the things we need to,” he said. “Hey, we’re 1-0 in the section, and we’re the defending champs. I can’t lose sight of that.”

Dave Mackall is a freelance writer.

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