Owen DeGregorio makes 7 3-pointers as North Catholic returns to WPIAL semifinals

Monday, March 8, 2021 | 11:02 PM

North Catholic’s Owen DeGregorio took advantage of Monday’s mild weather to put up some shots with his dad on their outdoor hoop.

“Maybe I’ve got to do that before every game,” said the senior, who made seven 3-pointers a few hours later as No. 5 seed North Catholic defeated No. 4 Quaker Valley, 84-56, in the WPIAL Class 4A quarterfinals.

The 6-foot guard made at least one 3 in every quarter.

“When you’re hot, you’re hot,” he said. “Every time you make one, the next one feels that much more likely it’s going to go in. You get to a point where you’ve hit four or five, after that they’re all going in.”

His father Dave is North Catholic’s coach.

“Maybe that (backyard shoot-around) was the best coaching I did all day,” he said with a laugh.

Owen DeGregorio and teammate Andrew Ammerman led a strong inside-outside attack that proved too much for the short-handed Quakers, who played without leading scorer Adou Theiro. DeGregorio scored a game-high 21 points entirely on 3-pointers, and Ammerman, a 6-foot-6 senior, had 19 points, almost entirely in the paint.

Choosing which to defend can be hard.

“It’s not hard, it’s impossible,” Owen DeGregorio said, “because he’s such a beast down there. He demands so much attention. If he kicks out, we’ve got to knock them down.”

In all, the Trojans made 10 3-pointers.

That included two by senior Isaiah Jackson and one by sophomore Max Rottman, who scored 11 points and keyed an 11-0 second-quarter run.

“We can shoot the ball,” coach Dave DeGregorio said. “When they said, ‘Hey we’re going to take it out of (Ammerman’s) hands,’ it opened up some guys. I thought it was important that we shot well early, and we shot the ball well early.”

North Catholic (17-4) returns to the WPIAL semifinals for the sixth year in a row. They’ll visit top-seeded Belle Vernon (13-1) at 6 p.m. Thursday.

No. 2 Lincoln Park hosts No. 3 Montour in the other semifinal.

“You’ve got to enjoy this time of year,” Dave DeGregorio said. “The kids are excited. Old people like myself are excited. It’s a good day.”

Quaker Valley (13-5) had three scorers reach double figures but played without Theiro, a star junior and the team’s point guard. Theiro injured his leg in the first round and spent Monday’s game on crutches.

Jake Gardinier led the Quakers with 20 points, Markus Frank had 19, and Ian Herring added 13, but nobody else on the team scored more than two. As a 22-point scorer, they could’ve used Theiro’s offense, but also missed his knack for freeing up others.

“It’s a difficult situation (to lose Theiro) and then to play against such a high-level team,” QV coach Mike Mastroianni said. “The most important thing is what he means to us. It’s tough to lose anybody, but then someone who’s the quarterback and runs the team.”

Mastroianni said the extent of Thiero’s leg injury isn’t yet known. He was helped off the court with a noncontact injury Thursday.

Regardless, Quaker Valley matched North Catholic shot for shot through the first quarter Monday and trailed 15-14 after one.

“I thought our guys managed it well,” Mastroianni said. “I’m not disappointed. The second quarter hurt us. If we don’t tip as much, we might hang around a little bit.”

North Catholic outscored Quaker Valley, 23-13, in the second and turned a one-point lead into 11. DeGregorio grabbed momentum with a pair of 3s early in the second quarter.

Rottman scored seven consecutive points later in the quarter on a 3-pointer and two layups. QV called timeout before and after his two layups while trying to halt an 11-0 run.

North Catholic led 38-27 at half.

With rebounds and put-back baskets, Ammerman became a bigger factor after halftime, scoring 11 points in the third quarter. Still, North Catholic kept shooting 3s. The Trojans’ lead reached 57-38 midway through the third when Matt Gregor was fouled beyond the arc and made three free throws.

North Catholic led 60-47 after three.

Quaker Valley cut the lead to 11 early in the fourth on a 3-pointer by Gardinier, but DeGregorio answered with a 3 at the other end 15 seconds later. DeGregorio made three 3s in the fourth as the Trojans pulled away.

“He had himself a night,” Dave DeGregorio said.

North Catholic, a newcomer to Class 4A, won the WPIAL 3A title last season and was the runner-up in 2019. The Trojans didn’t lose to any Class 4A opponents this winter but were seeded fifth in the WPIAL bracket, a position the players felt was too low.

Section 2 teams Lincoln Park, Montour and Quaker Valley were seeded second, third and fourth.

“There’s not a little bit of a chip, there’s a big chip on our shoulders,” Owen DeGregorio said. “We shouldn’t have gotten a five. I think we proved that tonight.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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