No. 9 Geibel Catholic boys use an electric fourth quarter to earn first round victory over Leechburg

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Saturday, February 15, 2020 | 3:50 PM


For the past three years, the Geibel boys basketball team qualified for the playoffs. But each time, the Gators lost in the first round.

Facing No. 8 Leechburg on Saturday at Thomas Jefferson, the ninth-seeded Gators (15-8) changed their fortune. They used a 29-point fourth quarter to earn a 65-58 victory to punch their ticket to the WPIAL Class A quarterfinals.

“We’ve been talking about this all week,” Geibel senior guard Enzo Fetsko said. “We wanted to be that next team from Geibel to win a playoff game. We know it’s been a long time, and that was a huge motivation. We know this was big.”

Early on, it was a tightly contested battle between teams looking for a shot at No. 1 seeded Vincentian Academy next week. They traded baskets throughout the first quarter, and neither team held a lead larger than five.

At the end of the first, Dylan Cook hit a layup for two of his game-high 25 points to give the Blue Devils (15-6) a 13-12 advantage.

That trend continued throughout the first half. The Gators used a defense that allowed them to bottle up sharp-shooter Connor McDermott while also limiting Leechburg’s big men, Jake Blumer and Eli Rich, from getting too many touches.

Through the first half, Blumer was held scoreless, and Rich and McDermott had five apiece.

“We worked on a very abstract type of defense this week because we knew McDermott could shoot it,” Geibel coach Don Porter said. “We talked to coaches, and we knew we didn’t want to let him beat us. So if they were going to beat us, someone else was going to beat us, and we knew they were going to flood our baseline so we adjusted to that in the second half.”

The Blue Devils made a run in the third quarter and cut Geibel’s five-point halftime lead to two points entering the final quarter. That’s when the Gators took off.

Led by an inspired 10-point quarter effort from sophomore Drew Howard, the Gators took control of the game. They broke down Leechburg’s press, Fetsko and Cole Kendall hit clutch 3-pointers from both corners, and Geibel was off and running.

“He was so angry with himself after getting three fouls in the first half,” Porter said. “So we called him out at halftime and we said, ‘It’s your show the second half,’ and you saw what he came out and did.”

The Blue Devils missed easy opportunities around the rim and took contested shots from inside the lane. Coach Damian Davies thought his team simply was off its game.

“I think I’ve seen us all play better than we played today,” Davies said. “We worked hard this past week, but we just looked a little out of sync. We didn’t play like we normally play.”

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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