Oscar Tshiebwe’s double-double leads Kennedy Catholic past Mt. Lebanon in PIAA quarterfinal

Saturday, March 16, 2019 | 3:47 PM

This state quarterfinal win over Mt. Lebanon, a 17-point victory against a WPIAL champion, “was a world-class butt-whipping,” said Kennedy Catholic coach Rick Mancino.

Emphasis added on the word “world.”

Kennedy Catholic star Oscar Tshiebwe had 25 points and 18 rebounds Saturday and Duquesne recruit Maceo Austin scored 18 as the District 10 champion defeated Mt. Lebanon, 68-51, in the PIAA Class 6A playoffs at Aliquippa.

Tshiebwe is a 6-foot-9, 245-pound senior headed to West Virginia.

Mancino said his team was “very much” offended when Blue Devils coach Joe David mentioned this week that his players were from Mt. Lebanon while Kennedy Catholic’s came from “all over the world.”

“Listen, their coach is a great coach and I have all the respect in the world. It was kind of offensive,” Mancino said.

“I had to make a comment,” he added with a smile. “My players (were saying) coach, you can’t let them. So, I just turned around and said: ‘Tonight was a world-class butt-whipping.’”

Kennedy Catholic (25-3) advances to face District 1 runner-up Coatesville in the semifinals Tuesday.

The small, parochial school in Hermitage won the Class A state title three years in a row with a few high-profile transfers before voluntarily moving to Class 6A this season.

“I don’t regret the comment,” David said, “because if you take (Tshiebwe) away and you take (Mattia Acunzo), the kid from Italy away, they’re still pretty good, but they’re not the team they are here. I’m just saying, there has to be some stuff done with this border and non-border schools.”

Still, both coaches said they hope to continue to play one another in the fall. Mt. Lebanon defeated Kennedy Catholic four months ago when the teams scrimmaged in November, but Tshiebwe didn’t play that day.

His oversized presence Saturday made a gigantic difference.

Mt. Lebanon led 22-18 before Tshiebwe carried Kennedy Catholic on a 15-2 run early in the second quarter. The center scored eight points in that quarter and added 10 more in the third as Kennedy Catholic pulled away.

Kennedy led 54-40 after three.

“It’s completely different (with Tshiebwe) because they pound the ball,” David said. “You take him away, and I think we can beat these guys. Maybe we beat them today.”

Hayden Mitchell led Mt. Lebanon (24-4) with 18 points and Blaine Gartley added 16.

Kennedy Catholic took motivation from David’s comment but more from that scrimmage loss, Mancino said.

“Mt. Lebanon kicked our butt in the scrimmage Nov. 3,” Mancino said. “Oscar wasn’t there, but we had our team there and they drilled us. Our players are going to punch me as soon as I get in the locker room because they’re sick of hearing about Mt. Lebanon. If I didn’t mention Mt. Lebanon’s name every day at practice this year, I didn’t mention it once.”

In fact, Mancino said he was watching more Mt. Lebanon video in bed at 3 a.m. Saturday morning because the Blue Devils concerned him.

“They weren’t as big as some (we’ve played),” Mancino said, “but team-wise and coach-wise and the way they play the game, that team might be one of the best.”

Mt. Lebanon fell behind by five points in the opening minutes but then rallied with 3-pointers from Sean Loughran and Gartley to lead 17-12 late in the first quarter.

But they needed more. The Blue Devils went 5 for 13 from beyond the 3-point arc in the first half but missed 13 of 16 after halftime.

“I don’t regret that comment,” David said. “What I regret is kicking their cans in (the fall) because they didn’t take us lightly. Their coach said they were (ticked) off and wanted to come get us. I would have like to maybe snuck up on them, you know?”

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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