North Catholic’s pressure too much for Mt. Pleasant in Class 4A quarterfinals

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Thursday, March 4, 2021 | 8:24 PM


Mt. Pleasant must have felt like North Catholic’s pressure defense met them at the front door.

At times, the Vikings probably felt there were more than five defenders on the floor.

No. 5 North Catholic overcame a slow start, turned up its pressure defense and defeated No. 12 Mt. Pleasant, 73-47, in a WPIAL Class 4A boys basketball quarterfinal game Thursday.

The Trojans (16-4) will play at No. 4 Quaker Valley in the semifinals 6 p.m. Monday.

Things started well for the Vikings (9-9) as Jacob Bungard drained a 3-pointer. Then, he and Nathan Kubasky beat the Trojans’ pressure for easy baskets and a 7-0 lead.

But North Catholic’s relentless pressure sped up the game, and the Vikings let the early lead slip away.

“That’s what we do all of the time,” North Catholic coach Dave DeGregorio said. “We’re going to play you full court, run-and-jump and double-team from the beginning to the end.”

North Catholic, thanks to two dunks from 6-foot-5 senior Andrew Ammerman, went on a 15-4 run to grab a 15-11 lead after a quarter.

“We didn’t shoot the ball well, but Andrew was tough,” DeGregorio said. “He was very good, and he’s a very good player. His level of energy was really good, and he played against a big, strong athletic kid.”

The Vikings turned the ball over eight times in the first quarter and six more times in the second quarter as North Catholic extended its lead to 31-21 at halftime.

“They ratcheted up the defense, and Ammerman killed us,” Mt. Pleasant coach T.J. Kravits said. “I’m proud of the effort the guys gave because they could have given up.”

“We didn’t handle the pressure well. That’s what happened to us against Belle Vernon and even McKeesport as well. We have to learn to deal with that a little better. That was the major difference in the game.”

Ammerman scored 16 of his game-high 30 points in the first half.

Things got worse for the Vikings in the third quarter when Kubasky picked up his fourth foul and headed to the bench.

The Vikings guards couldn’t handle the pressure at times, turned over 12 times as North Catholic opened up 52-31 lead.

“We practiced with seven guys on defense during the week,” Kravits said. “They are good. They have pedigree and a heck of a track record over the years.”

“It doesn’t shock me. I was disappointed we weren’t better prepared and that’s on me.”

Mt. Pleasant didn’t go quietly in the fourth quarter as it scored the first eight points of the quarter and cut the lead to 52-39 with 5:29 left on a three-point play by Jonas King that forced North Catholic to call time out.

The Trojans closed out the game with a 21-8 run.

Mt. Pleasant graduates its top seven players and Kravits was pleased how the season turned out.

“Based on how we finished by winning seven of 10 with a playoff victory, I’m very proud,” Kravits said. “We relied the majority of the time on the seniors, and they did step things up.”

Kubasky led Mt. Pleasant with 15 points. Jonas King had 14 points and two dunks, and Bungard finished with 10.

Connor Maddalon had 16 points for North Catholic, Matt Gregor added 13 and Isaiah Jackson 10.

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at pschofield@triblive.com.

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