Serra Catholic takes down Sewickley Academy in Class 2A semifinals

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Tuesday, February 26, 2019 | 11:36 PM


Isiah Warfield did everything he could to lead his team back to the district championship game, but in the end, a lunar eclipse turned out the lights on Sewickley Academy’s title run.

Jimmy Moon scored 30 points, including 12 from the free-throw line, all in the second half as Serra Catholic defeated the Panthers, 57-49, in the semifinals Tuesday at Peters Township.

The Eagles advance to the WPIAL Class 2A boys basketball championship game Friday against top-seeded Our Lady of the Sacred Heart.

Neither offense could gain traction in the first half as Serra Catholic led 16-14 after one quarter and 24-22 at halftime.

“You can tell we were kind of amped up and we just had to settle down some,” Serra Catholic third-year coach Justin Walther said. “I thought it was just a battle, just two great teams fighting.”

The game stayed close in the second half as Serra could not pull away. Warfield hit a 3-pointer to give the Panthers their first lead at 27-26 in the third quarter.

The lead lasted only a few seconds as Chris Salemi answered quickly to put the Eagles back up 29-27.

With Serra Catholic leading 37-32 one minute into the fourth quarter, Sewickley Academy coach Win Palmer was whistled for a technical foul, a call that still had him baffled afterward.

“I talked to the officials during the timeout about a rules interpretation they were wrong on,” Palmer said. “I then went over to the scorer’s table to ask where the official’s evaluator was sitting and they T’d me up.”

The Panthers’ Warfield was a one-man wrecking crew on defense and on the boards. He also scored a game-high 38 points, including eight 3-pointers. Sewickley Academy scored 27 points in the second half and Warfield had 21 of them.

“I thought Isiah played great today,” Walther said. “What are you going to do, he’s hitting NBA 3’s and we’re getting hands too, and he just keeps making them.”

As impressive as Warfield’s performance was, Serra senior Jimmy Moon was the star of the night. He sealed the win by hitting 10 of 12 free throws to go along with two field goals in the fourth quarter.

“I thought they did a great job on Jimmy,” Walther said. “They doubled him and we missed opportunities on some backdoor plays that really could have extended our lead.”

Walther has more to celebrate then a semifinals victory and a trip to the district title game. He and his wife, Lisa, are proud parents of their first child, Declan Lee Walther, who was born Sunday afternoon.

Declan may or may not be at The Pete on Friday when Serra Catholic shoots for its second WPIAL boys basketball championship and first since 2008.

The Eagles have won seven straight games and 19 of their last 20 to improve to 20-3 overall.

Sewickley Academy (13-9) will prepare for the PIAA playoffs, with first-round action in Class 2A set for March 9.

Don Rebel hosts the Rebel Yell podcasts for HSSN.

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