OLSH defeats rival Sewickley Academy in overtime to reach PIAA Class 2A final

Tuesday, March 20, 2018 | 10:51 PM

Our Lady of the Sacred Heart and Sewickley Academy know one another as well as any section rivals in the WPIAL.

So, OLSH added a few wrinkles.

With three seconds left in overtime, OLSH's Austin Wigley turned left instead of right, drove baseline and lofted a floater that rattled through the rim Tuesday night to defeat the reigning state champion 70-68 in a PIAA Class 2A semifinal at Peters Township.

This was their fourth matchup this season and the first three were decided by a combined 11 points. So, OLSH tried to become less predictable, drove baseline more often and switched to a 2-2-1 matchup zone defense against Sewickley for the first time, small tweaks that helped produce a giant result.

OLSH is headed to Hershey for the first time in team history.

“We have offenses — of course, they know us so well — that you're always dribbling back toward the top of the key,” OLSH coach Mike Rodriguez said. “Well today, we weren't dribbling back toward the top of the key. We were going everything backdoor.”

OLSH trailed 68-64 with 40 seconds left in overtime and scored the final six points to win.

Junior forward Ricco Tate had a put-back basket with 38 seconds left and then tied the game on a driving layup with 9.1 remaining. Tate was fouled on the tying basket and missed the free throw, but the rebound led to a jumpball and OLSH kept possession.

Then came Wigley's floater.

“It was amazing,” said Wigley, who received an in-bounds pass with 7.4 seconds left. “It's only something you dream of. Semifinals. Going to states. Against a rival team. Making the game-winning shot. It's even better than I dreamed of.”

Wigley led OLSH with 20 points and four 3-pointers, freshman Dante Spadafora scored 14, junior Daren DiMichele had 12 and Tate had 11. A 3-pointer by DiMichele had forced a 59-59 tie with 1:45 left in regulation and led to overtime.

The Chargers won without star sophomore Donovan Johnson, who was sidelined with a leg injury.

OLSH (26-3) will face either District 2 champion Holy Cross (23-6) or District 12 runner-up Constitution (19-11) in the PIAA final at 2 p.m. Friday. The PIAA postponed their semifinal to Thursday because of the snowstorm.

Whichever team advances from the east will have little time to prepare.

“I'll take the advantage,” Rodriguez said. “Yes, it is an advantage. I feel sorry for those guys.”

He then added with a laugh: “We're going to need all the help we can get. Divine intervention. Maybe they'll get another snowstorm and they'll have to play two games in one day. Yeah, I'll take that.”

It was Constitution that Sewickley Academy (24-5) defeated in overtime last season to win the state title.

Sewickley Academy was led Tuesday by its three star sophomores. Isiah Warfield scored 18 points, Jett Roesing had 17 and Isaiah Smith added 15.

Smith made consecutive layups in overtime to lead 66-60 with 2:29 left.

Sewickley's lead was 68-64 with 54 seconds left after two free throws by senior David Groetsch.

“We didn't do the things we normally do,” Sewickley Academy coach Win Palmer said. “We're really clutch with a lead late in the game, so that was unusual for us. But that happens. They're kids.”

Sewickley had one final chance with three seconds left. Nate Ridgeway caught an in-bounds lob about 12 feet from the hoop, but couldn't take a shot with Spadafora and DiMichele around him.

The teams were so closely matched this season that small details made the difference. Palmer credited OLSH's strong rebounding. Rodriguez pointed to its zone defenses.

OLSH used a 3-2 zone in the first half and switched to a 2-2-1 after halftime.

“They never expected that,” Rodriguez said. “They've never seen us play zone.”

OLSH won their first matchup this season 70-68, and Sewickley Academy won the next two 66-61 and 63-59. The third matchup was in the WPIAL finals.

This one was just as close.

OLSH led 16-13 after one and 35-34 at half. There were six ties and four lead changes in the first half. After three more ties and seven more lead changes, Sewickley led 50-48 after three.

Neither team ever led by more than seven points.

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at charlan@tribweb.com or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.


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