Monessen boys repel St. Joseph rally, reach WPIAL semifinals

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Thursday, February 21, 2019 | 10:14 PM


The St. Joseph and Monessen boys basketball teams met Thursday at West Allegheny with a spot in the WPIAL 1A semifinals and a trip to the PIAA tournament on the line.

Led by 25 points from Devin Whitlock and 23 from Dishon Howell, No. 4 Monessen outlasted No. 5 St. Joseph, 79-72, to advance to the WPIAL semifinals for the fifth time in six seasons.

The Greyhounds led by 10 points at the end of the third quarter and withstood a St. Joseph rally over the final eight minutes.

The Spartans cut the deficit to five points on three separate occasions in the fourth.

The Greyhounds hit 6 of 8 free throws over the final minute to help seal the victory.

“The guys really battled there,” Monessen coach Dan Bosnic said. “They showed some resiliency. We didn’t play our best in the first half and didn’t do a good job on defense, but they just gutted that thing out. I am really proud of them.”

Monessen (15-8) received a bye into the quarterfinals and returned to game action for the first time in 12 days.

With the win, the Greyhounds advance to face No. 1 Vincentian on Monday at a site and time to be determined.

“We feel good for the kids,” Bosnic said. “They’ve worked hard, and they deserve this opportunity.”

St. Joseph (18-6) remains alive in the playoffs and needs Monessen to win the WPIAL title or finish as the runner-up under the WPIAL’s follow-the-leader format.

An up-tempo game was expected as St. Joseph came into the game averaging 65.6 points, including 78 in a first-round rout of West Greene, and Monessen averaged 71.6 points during the regular season.

In addition to Whitlock and Howell’s big games on the scoreboard, Elijahwa Payne added 10 points for the Greyhounds.

Andrew Sullivan poured in a season-best 30 points to lead St. Joseph. He finished two points shy of the career-high 32 he scored in a win over Saltsburg last season.

Daniel Fabregas added 16 points for the Spartans, and Matt Arvay added 11.

Monessen held the lead for a majority of the first half. The Greyhounds’ largest advantage over the first 16 minutes was 22-16 early in the second quarter.

St. Joseph rallied and led 32-31 with 1:32 left until halftime, but Monessen used a 6-2 run the rest of the way to hold a 37-34 advantage at the break.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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