OLSH uses 3rd quarter surge to top Ridgway in PIAA quarterfinals
By: William Whalen
Sunday, March 17, 2019 | 12:45 AM
The Our Lady of the Scared Heart boys basketball team has been playing with emotion all season. The Chargers found themselves in a fast-paced, up-and-down the floor game against District 9 champ Ridgway, and it hit a fever pitch in the final seconds of the first half.
OSLH’s Daren DiMichele scored on a layup late in the second quarter, Ridgway’s Daunte Allegretto went for a last second 3-pointer at the buzzer, got fouled, connected on 2 of 3 from the foul line to tie the game at 27-27 going into the half. The predominately maroon and black Ridgway crown on hand hit a fever pitch.
Chargers sophomore guard Dante Spadafora saluted the Ridgway fans as he walked off the floor and was called for a technical foul, adding to the halftime chaos.
“It’s about how you handle adversity,” OLSH coach Mike Rodriguez said. “We talked about composure before the game, and we watched them play before. They are a controlled pace, control tempo type of basketball team that can frustrate you. It’s a credit to them.”
In the second half, the Chargers kept their composure and there was no stopping senior guard Daren DiMichele. DiMichele put up a game-high 28 points to help lead OLSH past Ridgway, 68-54, in the PIAA Class 2A quarterfinals at Oil City High School Saturday afternoon.
“Before the game, coach Rod circled a word on the board ‘composure,’” DiMichele said. “It was building up, building up. They had all of their fans here, and it just kind of blew up at the end of the half.”
WPIAL champion OLSH (25-2) advances to the PIAA semifinals to play District 6 champ Bishop Guilfoyle next Tuesday at a site and time to be determined. Bishop Guilfoyle downed District 10 champ Farrell, 55-52, to advance.
“We needed that one more ball-handler to make the next play,” Ridgway coach Anthony Allegretto said. “They were just so athletic for us. We knew that and we knew that we had to make some plays. We knew that we needed to take care of the ball a little bit better than what we did.”
Ridgway (24-4) started off hot. Jake Reynolds drilled a 3-pointer to give the Elkers an early lead. Will Thompson added a basket off an inbound pass, but the Chargers weren’t going away that easily. OLSH went on an 8-1 run to take control and came out of the first quarter with an 18-10 lead, thanks a 3-pointer from DiMichele. Reynolds finished with a team-high 18 points.
The pace of play was at a break-neck pace and both teams were driving the paint hard to the hoop. The physicality between the two teams heated up in the second quarter. OLSH’s Austin Wigley added a nice baseline layup early in the second quarter, and DiMichele came back with a layup to extend the Chargers lead to 22-18.
The Elkers’ Parker Rohr added driving baseline layup to draw the score to 22-20, OLSH. Reynolds swished a 3-pointer from the left elbow to tie the game with 40 seconds remaining in the half. The shot put the Ridgway fans on their feet for the final seconds of the first half.
“I’m not a real big talking guy,” DiMichele said. “I go to the hoop really hard, play defense really hard and that’s just how I get my emotions out on the court,”
The emotional ending to the first half seemed to be a problem for Ridgway. The Elkers did not come out in the second half and play the same way.
Reynolds added two quick foul shots for the technical foul on Spadafora to give the Elkers a 29-27 lead. But OLSH started the third quarter on a 12-3 run and never again trailed. Spadafora finished with 13 points.
OLSH freshman Jake DiMichele started getting hot. He hit a 3-pointer from the left elbow to put OLSH ahead 44-34 with just over 2 minutes remaining in the third quarter. Brother Daren came back with another long ball and all of the sudden it looked like the two DiMichele brothers were playing a game of pick-up basketball in the driveway. The two standouts combined for 13 of the Chargers’ 19 third-quarter points.
“We came out in the second half with our trap and wanted to generate some easy layups off of it,” Daren DiMichele said. “Once we start doing that, our emotions get up, we get up and we start playing really better.”
Jake DiMichele added a 3-pointer to open the fourth-quarter scoring for OLSH. Reynolds connected on a 3-pointer to cut into the Chargers’ lead at 56-44, but the Elkers’ couldn’t find a way to get any closer. Jake DiMichele finished with 13, with 11 coming in the second half. Daunte Allegretto chipped in with 10 for the Elkers.
“We knew going in that we were going to have to keep our composure to win this game against a good opponent,” Rodriguez said.
William Whalen is a freelance writer.