No. 4 Greensburg CC boys rally to upend No. 5 Jeannette

Friday, February 5, 2021 | 10:24 PM

The Centurions became the Contrarians when Jeannette went ahead by 12 points late in the third quarter Friday night.

This game was far from over.

“We said to ourselves, if we play hard, we can come back,” Greensburg Central Catholic senior guard Christian McGowan said. “We didn’t want to to lose on our home court.”

Fourth-ranked Greensburg Central Catholic rumbled to life in the second half, using a decisive run that began at the tail end of the third and spilled over into the fourth to rally past No. 5 Jeannette, 65-59, for their eighth straight victory before a slight crowd at GCC.

GCC (9-1, 6-1) moved closer to the Section 2-2A title while the Jayhawks (7-3, 4-2), the only team to beat GCC, had a four-game win streak stopped.

Jeannette went ahead 46-34 with 2 minutes, 45 seconds to play in the third on a 3-pointer by senior James Sanders. But GCC took control from there, scoring 23 of the next 26 points to build a 57-49 advantage late in the fourth.

“We had to pick up the pace and get our offense going again,” GCC coach Christian Hyland said. “We had 20 points in the first quarter, and with six minutes left in the third, we only had 29. That’s nine points over 10 or 12 minutes. We have been a second-half team all year. Our kids our resilient.”

GCC, which came in averaging 69.2 points, an average that ranks second in 2A behind high-flying Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (78.1), had four players reach double figures in scoring, led by McGowan, who had 19.

Senior Dylan Sebek added 12, junior Brevan Williams 11 and junior Dylan Parsons 10.

“We’re not a selfish team,” McGowan said. “We know we have to share the ball to win.”

Jeannette had been winning despite a short bench. A number of players are looking to return to the lineup in the coming weeks so until then, coach Adrian Batts has to manage a light rotation.

A red-hot night from 3-point range was a bright spot for the Jayhawks, who made 10 3s. But they didn’t get the balance of their opponent.

Senior Toby Cline shined with a game-high 25 points, making four shots from behind the arc, while Sanders scored 17, with five 3s.

“We needed a better team effort defensively,” Batts said. “We didn’t play as hard as we do, and that’s uncharacteristic for this group. Our lack of depth finally caught up to us. We were right there. We just ran out of gas. They made a run, and we couldn’t stop it.”

When the teams played Jan. 12 at Jeannette, senior Keith Rockmore scored on a putback for the Jayhawks with 5 seconds left in a 47-46 win. Williams just missed a floater in the lane as time expired.

This game appeared headed for another tight finish when Cline was fouled on a 3-point try and made all three free throws to cut it to 59-56 with 1:10 to play. But Sebek made a pair of foul shots, and Williams gathered a loose ball and scored inside to make it 63-56 with 40 seconds left.

Sanders canned his fifth 3, but McGowan knocked in two free throws with 13.5 to ice it.

“We’re a lot better now than we were the first time,” McGowan said. “We learned a lot from that game.”

GCC went 8 for 8 from the foul line in the fourth.

“It’s always tough and always a good game when we play them,” Hyland said.

A breakneck pace in the first quarter had the teams well ahead of that first-game point total. Jeannette connected on five 3-pointers in the opening frame, two each from Cline and Sanders, and took a 21-20 lead.

Cline scored 10 in the first when the lead switched sides a half-dozen times.

Jeannette led 36-26 at the half and stayed in front for the entire second and third quarters. But momentum shifted to GCC when the Centurions reeled off 10 straight points to close the third to get within 46-44.

Freshman Tyree Turner made a slick, up-and-under layup off the glass to put the Centurions ahead 50-49 with 5:40 left in the fourth — their first lead since 13-11.

McGowan followed Sanders’ 3 with two straight driving layups, Turner scored on a slash to the rim, and junior Ryan Appleby hit a 3 during the 23-3 run that put GCC ahead to stay.

“We were more comfortable slowing it down and (running offensive sets) in the second half,” McGowan said.

Batts said, “When they went to the halfcourt it made us work.”

Appleby finished with eight. Senior 6-9 center Hunter Schmidt had eight and Rockmore seven for Jeannette.

Cline and Ryan Kimmel each played 32 minutes for Jeannette.

“We got nothing from our bench,” Batts said. “But we were still there. In two weeks, I think we could be a different team. We’re not out to make excuses. GCC did what it had to do to win.”

GCC travels to play at Berlin Brothersvalley, the top-ranked team in the state in Class A, on Saturday afternoon.

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

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