Westmoreland high school notebook: Jeannette gets another shot at Sewickley Academy

Thursday, February 21, 2019 | 6:33 PM

To Jeannette, it seems like Sewickley Academy is lurking around every corner at boys basketball playoff time. There seems to be no escaping the perennially strong Panthers.

The teams will meet again at 8 on Friday night for the fourth straight postseason — the third time in four years in the WPIAL tournament — in the Class 2A quarterfinals at Canon-McMillan.

Sixth-seeded Jeannette (13-10) has yet to solve No. 3 Sewickley (12-8).

It almost did so in 2016, but the Panthers rallied for a 69-68 win in the WPIAL Class A semifinals at Chartiers Valley.

In 2017, Sewickley handled the Jayhawks, 80-51, in the WPIAL 2A quarters. Last season, the Panthers ended Jeannette’s run in the PIAA Class 2A quarterfinals 64-56 at North Hills.

Could this be the year the Panthers, who finished second in Section 3 to No. 1 seed Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, are “gettable?”

Sewickley has played about a fourth of the season without senior forward Nate Ridgeway, who left the team for personal reasons at the end of January.

The Panthers won three out of five games without the standout, their makeup is different and their record doesn’t give off a glare, but they still are quite formidable.

“We’re pretty familiar,” Jeannette coach Adrian Batts said. “We just have to go out and execute and get after it. If we have the same intensity and do the same things … cut down on some of the turnovers and finish, I think we have a chance. It’s still Sewickley and gotta beat the champ.”

Sewickley will come in off a 10-day bye, whereas Jeannette dispatched Springdale, 70-47, in the first round Saturday.

Jeannette is in the quarterfinals for the fifth straight time. Sewickley is trying to reach the title game for the fourth consecutive season.

Dark side of Moon

Like Jeannette with Sewickley, Franklin Regional’s boys have developed a playoff connection with Moon. Franklin Regional (17-6), the No. 6 seed in Class 5A, will take on No. 3 Moon (18-4) on Friday night at West Allegheny.

Some always will remember — others would like to forget — Franklin Regional’s 28-26 win over the Tigers in the quarterfinals last season at North Hills.

Both teams had a frigid shooting night, and defense won out.

“People think we slowed it down,” Panthers coach Steve Scorpion said. “We didn’t. Neither team shot the ball well.”

The teams combined to make just 20 of 69 shots and 10 of 27 free throws. Nick Leopold made two key free throws in the waning seconds before Connor Ryan’s layup rimmed out with 6.2 seconds left.

In 2017, Moon topped the Panthers in the quarterfinals 75-61 at North Hills — and also 76-37 in the regular season — before the Panthers pulled a stunner in the first round of the PIAA playoffs.

Simon Behr’s buzzer-beating jumper gave Franklin Regional a thrilling 52-51 win at Plum.

Franklin Regional has been known to grind out wins with Scorpion in charge, but the Panthers went up-tempo in a 66-41 first-round win Monday against Thomas Jefferson at Norwin.

“We’ve shown we can play fast or slow it down and run offense,” Scorpion said. “We want to be able to play whatever way it takes to win. Moon will try to slow us down, so we have to be patient and ready to play that way.”

Ready to roll

Boys Class 6A No. 2 seed Latrobe (18-2) will have been out of game action for 14 days when it finally takes the court Saturday against No. 7 Canon-McMillan in the quarterfinals.

The Wildcats were sharp after a first-round bye last year in a 73-66 win over Butler, which was followed by an 89-52 loss to Mt. Lebanon.

They hope to have fresh legs again this time.

Getting past the quarterfinals would “mean more than anything,” Latrobe senior guard Reed Fenton said. “I kind of wish we could play right away, but the long break is good for recovery.”

Fenton was able to rest a bruised knee he suffered against Kiski School on Feb. 5.

Latrobe has 10 straight wins and has not lost to a WPIAL team this season.

Norwin tripleheader

Look for Norwin to be buzzing with WPIAL playoff atmosphere Saturday. Two games precede the Latrobe boys game there, with Highlands and Uniontown meeting at noon in the Class 4A boys quarterfinals and the Franklin Regional and Penn Hills girls playing at 1:30 p.m. in the 5A quarters.

Southmoreland builds

Southmoreland looks like it could be a factor in the WPIAL girls postseason for years to come. This year’s run notwithstanding, the Scotties will lose only one senior — a major one, though — in 6-foot-2 center Maggie Moore.

But three promising freshmen have emerged quickly and are forming a foundation for the future. Bailey Kuhns (5-11), Gracie Spadaro (5-10) and Delaynie Morvosh (5-10) have shown they are ready for varsity time.

“Bailey is so aggressive and always looks to score,” Scotties coach Brian Pritts said. “She doesn’t seem to have fear. She is one of a very special group of freshmen we are blessed to have. They have all provided a spark for our team this year. I am truly grateful for the mix of players we have on our team.”

Getting defensive

Don’t be surprised if the score of Saturday’s WPIAL Class 5A girls quarterfinal between No. 4 Franklin Regional (17-6) and No. 5 Penn Hills (15-6) resembles a men’s pants size.

The teams are two of the best at playing defense in the classification. Penn Hills allows 37.6 points, Franklin Regional 42.0.

Franklin Regional has not allowed more than 45 points since Jan. 23, a span of eight games. Penn Hills allowed 57 in an upset loss to Latrobe but limited Class 6A No. 4 Norwin to 36 and Section 3-5A champion Oakland Catholic to 32.

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

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