Well-rounded GCC boys too much for Winchester Thurston, win 14th straight

Wednesday, February 2, 2022 | 11:14 PM

Tyree Turner and Brevan Williams scored inside and out.

Anthony Semelka tipped in a miss, and Ryan Appleby swatted a shot into the student section.

Dylan Parsons zinged a no-look pass to Franco Alvarez for an easy two.

It was that kind of night for No. 2 Greensburg Central Catholic as the Centurions ran their winning streak to 14 with a 69-54 victory over visiting Winchester Thurston on Wednesday night in a Section 3-2A boys basketball game.

GCC (14-1, 7-0) continued its pursuit of a third straight section title as it jumped on the Bears (7-6, 4-3) early and repelled their mild comeback late on the way to a season sweep.

“We had a couple rough starts in recent games, but we were laser-focused tonight to get out on that team,” said Alvarez, a 6-foot-5 sophomore forward who was one of four double-figure scorers for the Centurions, tallying all 12 of his points in the second half. “We wanted to get out in front as soon as possible.”

That they did, racing to a 20-9 lead after the first quarter and expanding the advantage to 39-20 at halftime.

“You can’t get punched in the face and knocked out in the first quarter,” Winchester Thurston coach Justin Walther said.

Turner, a sophomore guard, led GCC with 18 points, 11 in the first half. Williams finished with 16 and Appleby 14.

“We moved the ball well,” Alvarez said. “We stay away from being selfish.”

Seniors Williams and Appleby, both 6-4, are part of a long rotation that presents matchup problems for teams. Semelka, who was strong from end to end, is 6-3.

GCC won 83-76 at Winchester Thurston last week, again getting four players to score in double digits.

“This was like that game,” GCC coach Christian Hyland said. “They made hustle plays and got loose balls. We got some stops. I was worried we might be flat. It’s a makeup game, not a normal night. We had a great atmosphere here.”

A bass drum in the student section thumped to the beat of each big play for GCC, which is averaging 71.8 points.

It was quiet for a stretch in the second half when the Bears tightened their defense and began to dictate tempo.

“We have to value every possession,” Hyland said. “That is the sign of a good team: You value possessions.”

Winchester Thurston applied pressure and forced turnovers early in the second half but still trailed 54-36 heading to the fourth.

“We we rebound like we did, it’s hard for them to get out and go,” Hyland said.

High-scoring senior guard Jackson Juzang and senior Lance Nicholls hit 3s to key a run that cut the deficit to 58-47 with 4:20 to play. But Alvarez took a no-look feed from Parsons under the rim and finished, Williams completed a three-point play, and Turner hit a short jumper to make it 67-51.

“They’re just way bigger than we are,” Walther said. “We didn’t execute our gameplan early. … That hurt us. We didn’t play with any urgency. We gave up so many second-chance points.

“We made them panic a little bit … They’re just so big, and they can score from all over the place.”

Back to that height: Appleby runs the point. Good luck finding many ball-handlers with that size.

He hurt the Bears scoring, passing and defending.

“It’s a nice tool for us to have,” Hyland said. “He’s a tough matchup. Who do you put on him?”

Juzang led Winchester Thurston with 28 points, raising his career total to 1,056. He is the nephew of former Los Angeles Lakers guard Michael Cooper.

Williams, GCC’s latest 1,000-point scorer after reaching the milestone Tuesday, is up to 1,020 for his career.

Nicholls finished with 11, including a pair of 3-pointers.

GCC vaulted into the TribLive HSSN rankings this week, taking over the No. 5 spot in Class 2A.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.

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