Worthy challenger awaits No. 1 Greensburg Central Catholic in WPIAL finals

By:
Tuesday, February 27, 2024 | 11:01 AM


Greensburg Central Catholic has won going away in the playoffs. It hasn’t been close.

The Centurions have been dominant, trailing only once, for a blink of an eye — Northgate actually led 1-0 in a 77-10 first-round runaway — while winning three playoff games by a combined 124 points.

The No. 1 seed in the WPIAL Class 2A playoffs, GCC (19-5) is primed to notch another check mark on a realistic list of goals by winning a championship.

So far, nobody has stood in the way of the title favorites.

The Centurions are 15-0 playing against Class 2A teams. But their closest games against opponents from their own classification have come against Serra Catholic (21-4), the team they will meet for the WPIAL title at 7 p.m. Thursday at Petersen Events Center.

“The (winning margin) means nothing,” GCC coach Chris Skatell said. “Nothing at all. The expectation of our players is high. We’re diverse, and we can do a lot of things that other teams can’t. Our girls never take their eye off the ball.”

GCC swept the third-seeded Eagles in two Section 3 games, 66-53 and 59-47.

Extended scoring runs keyed both wins.

“Our team’s mentality is we are the best team in 2A when we play under control and limit our own mistakes,” Serra Catholic first-year coach Mike Voit said. “We had too many mistakes in the first two matchups. We really don’t pay much attention to other scores from other teams. However, we know GCC has been a great team this year and has proven that by their record and section title. They gave us two of our four losses, so we certainly respect them and their abilities.”

The teams split the section title last season, with each winning on its home floor. Several players are back on both sides, so there won’t be much of a surprise element when they tip under the bright lights on Pitt’s home floor.

“It was important for us to win (in the semifinals),” GCC senior guard Mya Morgan said. “Making it to the finals is one of the milestones we have been looking forward to. We have been working, and we’ll be prepared for (Serra).”

Morgan has been a steadying presence for a young team, along with the two other seniors, Avery Davis and Cara Dupilka.

Sophomore guard Erica Gribble is perhaps the centerpiece to a loaded backcourt that has scorers all over the place.

Morgan and Gribble eclipsed the 1,000-point milestone this season. Gribble did so in a 26-point performance in a 73-38 win over South Side in the semis.

“There is not a whole lot (Serra) doesn’t know about us or a lot we don’t know about them,” Skatell said. “It’s going to be exciting.”

Abby Genes leads Serra with a 15-point average. She had 13 in a 43-36 win over Aliquippa in the semifinals.

“I also really like the way we are playing defense right now,” Voit said. “If we can limit our own mistakes and make GCC have to work on offense for a bucket, I like our chances.

“We were able to force one of their big three to not have their best games in both matchups. That was a positive for us.”

GCC, in the WPIAL playoffs for the 24th straight year, is seeking its sixth WPIAL title and first since 2007, when Pitt commit Ashley Henderson propelled the Centurions, who were led by late coach Rich Rosensteel, who died last Thanksgiving.

Serra’s last title came in 2005. The Eagles, who had a long run of success under coach Bill Cleary, have four titles.

They made the finals in 2021.

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

Tags:

More High School Basketball

23 WPIAL players picked to 2024 all-state boys basketball team, including 2 players of the year
Hampton basketball readies for rare coaching search
Hall of fame basketball coach Joe Lafko steps down at Hampton
Dave Pucka, one of Plum’s own, hired to coach boys basketball team
Corey Dotchin steps down as Highlands boys basketball coach