Polce leads Pine-Richland boys past Connellsville

Tuesday, February 18, 2020 | 10:14 PM

Pinpoint perimeter shooting and dominant rebounding led Pine-Richland to an 81-51 victory over Connellsville in the first round of the WPIAL Class 6A playoffs Tuesday at Fox Chapel High School.

Kyle Polce scored 27 points, Joseph Petcash added 14 and Levi Wentz chipped in 12 for the fifth-seeded Rams, who will meet fourth-seeded Upper St. Clair in Saturday’s quarterfinals.

“We have a lot of guys that can score,” Pine-Richland coach Jeff Ackermann said. “Polce is a great player and we had a lot of contributions from a lot of players tonight. If we want to keep making a run, we need everybody to keep stepping up.”

No. 12 Connellsville (8-15) did hang tough early.

Pine-Richland (15-8) grabbed a 6-2 lead when Wentz went up for a two-handed dunk, but the Falcons didn’t let the big play bother them.

Instead, the Falcons rallied as Josh Maher (12 points) put together a strong first quarter that included three baskets. One of those baskets helped Connellsville pull to within 12-11.

However, the Falcons had a hard time finding an answer for Polce, who knocked down five buckets in the opening frame, including a pair of 3-pointers that gave the Rams an 18-13 lead.

In the second quarter, Connellsville pulled to within 27-23 on the strength of back-to-back baskets by Josh Marietta (10 points). But just when it looked like the Falcons were ready to climb all the way back, the Rams responded with an 8-0 run, highlighted by another trey from Polce.

Marietta and Kade Musgrove each finished with six points in the second quarter for the Falcons, but at the half, Connellsville trailed, 38-27. Musgrove led Connellsville with 15 points.

In the second half, Connellsville got to within 10 when Bo Soisson came up with a steal and a pull-up 3-pointer to make it 50-40. But once again, Polce kept the Rams comfortably in front as he drained a 3-pointer at the other end.

“We got to within 10 in the third quarter, but they were just a better team,” Connellsville coach Andy Hedrick said. “They started to get hot and they ran away with it.”

The Rams led 55-42 heading to the fourth, and when Petcash (14 points) went on a personal 5-0 run, it extended the Pine-Richland lead to 62-44. From there, the Rams just kept adding on.

Listen to the archived broadcast of this game on Trib HSSN.

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