Petrarca, Peters Township boys hold off Hempfield rally

Tuesday, February 18, 2020 | 10:42 PM

A poor first half and the hot shooting of Peters Township senior Sam Petrarca did in the Hempfield boys basketball team Tuesday night.

Petrarca, a 6-foot-4 forward, scored a game-high 28 points, 16 in the first half, and Peters Township held off a late rally for a 55-46 victory in the opening round of the WPIAL Class 6A playoffs at Mt. Lebanon.

The ninth-seeded Indians (14-9) will face No. 1 Butler in the quarterfinals on Saturday at a site and time to be determined.

Eighth-seeded Hempfield, which trailed by 16 early in the second half, pulled to within 48-44 with 1:05 left but got no closer.

“Sam saved us,” Peters Township coach Gary Goga said. “I remember when he was young and on our B team. But he just kept getting better and better.”

Petrarca was 4 for 4 from the foul line in the final minute to ice the game. He finished with 10 rebounds.

“I think we were 1 for 15 from outside the arc and still in the game,” Hempfield coach Bill Swan said. “That’s a testament to how hard we played. Most times teams get blown out if they shoot that poorly.”

The Spartans were 12 of 50 from the field, 11 of 36 from inside the arc.

Peters Township grabbed the lead for good when Colin Cote hit a free throw and a bucket for an 8-5 lead in the first quarter. The Indians closed out the quarter on an 8-4 run to grab a 16-9 advantage.

Hempfield (12-11) struggled from the field in the second quarter, converting on 1 of 6 shots. Peters Township held an 18-4 edge in rebounds.

“We kind of knew we’d have trouble defending Petrarca,” Swan said. “But we did a good job on Cote, but Petrarca is so good when he comes downhill off the dribble. With that said, they only had 29 at halftime.”

Cote, Peters Township’s leading scorer, was held to seven points. The Indians were 17 of 30 from the field, but like Hempfield, struggled beyond the arc by going 1 for 12.

“We did a better job on Sam in the second half until late,” Swan said. “We just missed too many layups and didn’t convert at the line at times.”

Hempfield was able to stay in the game because it got to the foul line 27 times and converted 21.

The Spartans defense tightened up in the second half, and Peters Township slowly saw its lead being chipped away.

Peters Township didn’t score a point in the fourth quarter until Logan Pfeuffer hit a free throw with 4:11 left to make it 39-33. The miss on the second attempt turned into a putback by Petrarca.

Hempfield refused to go quietly. The Spartans made it 46-42 when Mike Hosni got loose on the baseline for a hoop with 1:05 left.

It was 48-44 after two Hosni free throws with 1:05 left. On the ensuing possession, Hempfield thought it deserved a 10-second call, but Peters Township was awarded a timeout with 54.6 left.

Peters Township was 11 for 14 from the foul line in the final 4:11.

“I have no complaints with the officials,” Swan said. “We got three of the best. The effort by our players doesn’t surprise me. We played hard.”

They just didn’t have an answer for Petrarca.

Watch the archived broadcast of this game on Trib HSSN.

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

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