OLSH rolls Jeannette, shows no signs of slowing down heading into WPIAL finals

Wednesday, March 10, 2021 | 9:10 PM

Jeannette found out quickly it faced a difficult challenge in the WPIAL Class 2A boys basketball semifinals Wednesday night at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart.

When the Chargers had four offensive rebounds on their first possession, Jeannette coach Adrian Batts knew winning would take a supreme effort.

No. 1 OLSH (20-0) made it back to the WPIAL Class 2A finals for the fifth consecutive season by defeating No. 5 Jeannette, 69-41. The Chargers will face No. 2 Greensburg Central Catholic in the finals at 5 p.m. Saturday at Peters Township.

The first quarter was sloppy for both squads, with turnovers and missed shots. The score was tied 7-7 when OLSH finished the quarter on an 11-1 run to grab an 18-8 lead.

OLSH’s Jake DiMichele, who finished with a game-high 30 points, and senior Dante Spadafora hit 3-pointers during the run.

Jeannette (15-5) turned the ball over 10 times in the opening quarter and 26 times in the game. OLSH also had 18 offensive rebounds.

DiMichele had 19 points in the first half, including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer as OLSH opened a 43-22 lead at halftime.

“It was the semifinals, and I think both teams were a little nervous,” OLSH coach Mike Rodriguez said. “It was a really big game for us. We only had two starters returning. All the role players came up big. It also helps to have the two captains (DiMichele and Spadafora) like we have.”

Turnovers and poor shooting proved costly for Jeannette. The Jayhawks were 16 of 42 from the floor and were outrebounded 34-20.

“They are ranked No. 1 in the state for a reason,” Batts said. “They play extremely hard, are very active on defense and play together. They force you to do stuff you don’t normally do.

“We got out of our stuff, but it’s because of them. Spadafora pressures the ball, and DiMichele is bigger than I thought he was, and they have two big guys inside.”

Early in the second half, Jeannette’s defense caused OLSH problems, whittling the deficit to 42-25, but OLSH finished the quarter on an 11-0 run to push the lead to 58-32.

Dawson Summers scored 14 points and had 11 rebounds for the Chargers. Spadafora scored 12, all in the first half.

“They’ve won 35 consecutive games here, and we knew it was going to be a tough battle,” Batts said. “We had to play perfect.”

Anton Good led Jeannette with 13 points, and Keith Rockmore finished with nine.

“We picked up the pressure in the second quarter, and that started getting us some transition baskets,” Rodriguez said. “We’re blessed to get back in the finals. We know how hard it is to get there, and every time you reach the finals feels like the first time.”

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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