Westmoreland basketball notebook: Area teams set for rematches in quarterfinals

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Friday, March 5, 2021 | 5:14 PM


Rematches will be the order of the day for three Westmoreland County teams as they take to the WPIAL basketball quarterfinals Saturday afternoon.

In boys Class 2A, No. 5 seed Jeannette (14-4) will take on No. 13 Winchester Thurston (9-4), a Section 3 opponent that dealt the Jayhawks a 65-60 loss in January.

The teams’ second game was postponed and was not made up.

When Winchester Thurston defeated Jeannette, it shot 37 free throws, all five Jeannette starters fouled out, and the Bears only made 12 field goals.

The Jayhawks have been anxiously waiting for the rematch.

“We’re looking forward to it,” Jeannette coach Adrian Batts said. “Our kids felt like the game was taken away from them. You hold a team to 12 field goals and lose because they shoot 37 free throws. It’s the kind of game that has you marking the calendar for the next one.

“We came in overconfident, took the lead and stopped playing our game. We aren’t the same team we were at that point of the season.”

Jeannette has mercy-ruled three straight opponents.

“I really like how our guys are defending and sharing the ball,” Batts said. “This was how I envisioned our team would be if it wasn’t for injuries and other things.

As for the other two rematches:

For Greensburg Central Catholic (14-3), the No. 2 seed in 2A, a rematch looms against No. 10 Sewickley Academy (10-7), which clipped the Centurions, 49-42, on Feb. 23. The teams met in the 2017 PIAA quarterfinals. The Panthers won 61-46.

GCC had to hold off Serra Catholic, 54-53, to reach the quarters. Like Jeannette and Winchester Thurston, Serra is a section opponent. GCC defeated the Eagles twice before their third meeting.

A third matchup awaits the Norwin girls as the Knights (12-4) meet Section 1 foe Butler (10-8) in the 6A quarters.

Norwin had little resistance from the Golden Tornado in a pair of runaway wins, 49-26 and 54-29.

Action Jackson

Jeannette’s defensive approach Saturday will revolve around stopping Winchester Thurston junior guard Jackson Juzang, who averages nearly 30 points a game.

Juzang had 42 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists in an 86-73 win against Serra Catholic during the regular season.

The talented left-hander can score, but is he the best player at family reunions?

Juzang has quite a family tree. His uncle is former Los Angeles Lakers guard Michael Cooper, who played on the 1980’s “Showtime” championship teams, and his grandmother is married to Hall of Fame singer and songwriter Smokey Robinson.

When Jeannette played Winchester Thurston earlier in the season, Juzang scored 26. Senior Keith Rockmore had a game-high 28, including four 3-pointers.

Sick leave

Latrobe senior guard Ryan Sickenberger already had the clutch player of the year award locked down, but he feels the need to keep proving himself.

Sickenberger again came through down the stretch again when the Wildcats needed him most, finishing a three-point play to cap a thrilling, 61-59 win over Thomas Jefferson in the Class 5A first round Wednesday.

He also heaved in a double-clutched 3-pointer to beat the buzzer, and Franklin Regional, 56-53.

When the Wildcats edged Woodland Hills, 53-52, Sickenberger made a 3 with four-tenths of a second left.

Maybe he likes Wednesday night games: two of the three game-winners came on Wednesdays.

And speaking of double-clutch, his brother, Chase, a junior guard, made a 3 as time expired for a 72-69 Wildcats win over McKeesport.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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