St. Joseph boys top West Greene for 1st playoff win since 2011

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Thursday, February 14, 2019 | 1:30 AM


The St. Joseph boys basketball team saw a double-digit first-half lead trimmed to six at halftime of Friday’s WPIAL Class A first-round game at Mt. Lebanon.

But the No. 5 Spartans took over at both ends in the second half and used a 25-0 run to break the game open en route to a 78-45 victory over West Greene.

“Most of our runs this season have been sparked by our defense, especially in the third quarter. That’s always been our strongest quarter,” St. Joseph sophomore guard Andrew Sullivan said.

The St. Joseph defense forced seven turnovers during the run, and West Greene had 25 turnovers overall.

The Spartans (18-5) move to the quarterfinals against No. 4 Monessen on Thursday at a site and time to be determined. The Greyhounds (14-8) received a first-round bye after going undefeated to win Section 2.

“It’s definitely going to be a battle,” St. Joseph coach Kelly Robinson said. “They were here filming us. We don’t have anything on them right now, and they have this game. But I told the kids it will come down to our five against their five and who can execute better. They run, and we run. It’s just a matter of who doesn’t turn the ball over, and who hits the shots.”

The playoff victory was St. Joseph’s first since 2011. It snapped a postseason drought of six games.

The 25-0 run technically began in the waning seconds of the first half as Sullivan, one of four Spartans to reach double figures, scored on a layup with seven seconds left.

Sullivan started the barrage in the third quarter with another layup, and Gabe McKernan added a putback to push the St. Joseph advantage back to double figures at 36-26.

Matt Arvay, Daniel Fabregas and CJ Singleton hit 3-pointers during the run. St. Joseph had eight 3s for the game.

“It was phenomenal the way we came out in that third quarter,” Robinson said. “I told the kids at halftime to just go out, have fun, play their game and let the game come to them. Our defense really picked it up and played well.”

Arvay and Grant Bendis finished with 16 points each, and in addition to Sullivan’s 15, Fabregas contributed 14.

Arvay helped St. Joseph get off to a hot start. He made three of his four 3-pointers within the first 212 minutes of the game to help stake his team to an 11-4 lead.

“We knew coming into the season we were going to have four or five guys that could each put up double digits each night,” Arvay said. “That’s what we expect. As you could see tonight, that’s what we did. Whenever the scoring is balanced, that leads to wins. Whenever we’re not being selfish and are distributing the ball, that’s how we like to play.”

The lead swelled to 18-6 late in the quarter before West Greene went on a 6-0 run over the final 1:13 to close the gap to six after eight minutes of play.

Ben Jackson led off the second quarter with a layup to pull the Pioneers to within four, but Fabregas made two 3s to push the St. Joseph lead to 24-14 with 5:49 to play until halftime.

Jackson led West Greene with 10 points in the first half, but he was held scoreless in the second half until he converted a layup with 4:03 left.

Jackson finished with 14 points, and Drew Wise added 11 for the Pioneers.

“St. Joseph is such a good, athletic team,” West Greene coach James Romanus said. “You have to be able to play with five offensively and five defensively against this team. We just weren’t able to do it.

“(St. Joseph) is a physical bunch, and they just killed us on the glass.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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