Trib HSSN Boys Basketball Team of the Week: Mt. Lebanon
By: Don Rebel
Sunday, March 3, 2019 | 11:34 PM
Our Trib HSSN Team of the Week proved they are the top team in the top classification with a first championship in nine years as we salute the Mt. Lebanon Blue Devils.
Mt. Lebanon finished the regular season with a 19-3 record and Section 2-6A champions.
After beating Fox Chapel in the quarterfinals last week, Mt. Lebanon had a third meeting against section rival Canon-McMillan on Wednesday.
Jake Hoffman scored 17 points, Blaine Gartley had 15 points and Sean Loughran added 12 points as the Blue Devils rolled past the Big Macs, 58-39.
“I thought we played well,” Mt. Lebanon 18th-year coach Joey David said. “We just shot poorly, and I just said keep shooting. I have confidence in each of them that the next one is going in.”
Up next was the Class 6A championship game and a rematch of a Dec. 18 nonsection game against Butler, a game the Blue Devils won by 27 points.
The Golden Tornado’s Ethan Morton had raised his game in the postseason, scoring 32 points in a quarterfinal win over Upper St. Clair and 40 points in a semifinals upset of top-seed Pine-Richland.
Against Mt. Lebanon, Morton was 8 of 15 from the field and ended up with 21 points, six points below his average.
“I thought we did OK,” David said, when asked about how his team did against the superstar junior. “We just wanted to make things hard on him and make him work. He is a fantastic player, and we knew it would be hard to keep him down like we did the first time we played.”
It was a game of mini-runs where Mt. Lebanon would build a lead only to have Butler come back.
After a slow start, the Blue Devils cranked up the pressure defense that led to several fast-break points. Plus, Mt. Lebanon had success from behind the arc, scoring 35 points in the middle two quarters.
The Blue Devils’ versatility paid off when they went to a stall game in the fourth quarter, proving they could play fast or slow and still have success.
“We love playing fast, but some situations call for us to be more patient,” David said. “We had a couple guys out there with four fouls each.”
On many occasions in the regular season and postseason, Mt. Lebanon was able to answer the call when teams turned it up a notch. David was asked if that was his team’s mental edge or if it was a physical attribute.
“Both,” he said. “We are a highly conditioned team and we work on the mental game daily.”
So now that Mt. Lebanon has its third WPIAL championship under David, to go with 2006 and ‘10 crowns, it will begin its trek in the PIAA playoffs with a first-round game against Manheim Township.
David was hopeful and realistic when asked what his team needs to do for a lengthy state playoff run.
“Keep being the best versions of ourselves and avoid Kennedy Catholic.”
Don Rebel hosts the Rebel Yell podcasts for HSSN.
Tags: Mt. lebanon