Top-seeded Mt. Lebanon shuts down Pine-Richland to earn spot in 6A semifinals

Friday, February 23, 2024 | 11:57 PM

Mt. Lebanon rode a strong defensive effort to a 51-40 win over Pine-Richland in the WPIAL Class 6A boys basketball quarterfinals Friday night.

Both teams started slow as the Blue Devils only led 18-13 at the half.

“We were a bit rusty,” Mt. Lebanon coach Joe David said. “We didn’t shoot the ball very well today. Usually we shoot the ball extremely well.”

The low-scoring start to the game was helped by the great defensive play of Mt. Lebanon. Pine-Richland was held without a field goal the entire second quarter, only scoring on a pair of foul shots.

“I think our defense is getting better,” David said. “It was 6-2 in the second quarter. Usually it’s a 12-2 or 14-2 type of run. We didn’t get that today.”

Mt. Lebanon had four scorers in double digits despite the slow start. Seniors Brody Barber and Nate Girod each scored 12 points. Liam Sheely and Riley Farabaugh contributed 10 points apiece.

With the game close in the early going, missed opportunities contributed to the low output for Rams at times.

“We were in it the whole time,” Pine-Richland coach Bob Petcash said. “Some missed layups and turnovers changed the whole dynamic of the game.”

The offensive struggles continued for the Rams throughout the night. Pine-Richland was held to just 23 points through the first three quarters.

“We shot 22 percent tonight,” Petcash said. “You’re not going to win too many basketball games shooting 22 percent.”

Pine-Richland remained relentless throughout the contest. The Rams outscored the Blue Devils 17-16 in the fourth quarter. Petcash had praise for his team’s willingness to keep fighting.

“These guys never stop battling,” Petcash said. “They’re warriors and they grind so hard. Everybody else feeds off of that.”

With only three teams making the PIAA tournament, the quarterfinal loss ended the season for Pine-Richland. Senior Carson Baer led the Rams with 12 points in his final high school game. Petcash spoke glowingly about his senior class after the game.

“Hats off to them,” Petcash said. “They play with toughness and heart. I love those guys. They’re great to be around and I’m going to miss coaching them.”

The top-seeded Blue Devils will face Baldwin, a familiar section foe, on Tuesday night.

“They’re a very good basketball team,” David said. “They’ve only lost six games all year. They have good players, they’re well-coached, and they’ll be ready to go.

Mt. Lebanon is eager for the journey to continue.

“At this point in time, you just want to advance and move forward,” David said. “Everybody is good. You just have to keep having fun and keep moving along.”

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