WPIAL Basketball Playoff Recaps for Thursday, February 26th

Thursday, February 26, 2015 | 11:22 PM

The first year experiment has come to an end. Instead of playing follow the winner to determine the PIAA qualifiers from District 7, this season marked the first of a three year experiment with play-in games or Consolation contests. Those teams that gained state playoff berths with their play on the court likely give the test a two-thumbs up. Here are recaps from the eight 5th Place games and the three 7th place games on Consolation Thursday.

A special thanks go out to Bob Orkwis, Mark Schaas, Dennis Fischer, Brian Mroziak, Gero Von Dahn, Josh Rowntree, Bob Gregg, Lou Rood and Bob Barrickman for their help on these recaps.

BOYS WPIAL CLASS AAAA Fifth Place Consolation Game:

Mount Lebanon Blue Devils 56 – Hempfield Spartans 53 
The Mt. Lebanon Blue Devils advance to the PIAA playoffs with a 56-53 win over the Hempfield Spartans at Peters Township High School.  Mt.. Lebanon led through most of the contest and after leading by one at the half, they would never trail again.  In the fourth quarter the Blue Devils looked to be poised to take control and opened up their biggest lead of the game, 45-35.  Instead, Hempfield would come alive and thanks to 17 point 2nd half by Kason Harrel, cut the Devil lead to just 2.  That was as close as the Spartans would come however as Mt. Lebanon’s Matt Lamendola would make some key rebounds down the stretch.  Harrel would finish with 24 in the game.  The Devils were led by sr-g Jonny David’s 17 points, 11 from the stripe.  The two big men, Hempfield’s Tony Pilato and Mt. Lebanon’s Patrick Ehland would battle foul trouble throughout, limiting their effectiveness.  The Spartans’ season comes to an end and the Blue Devils advance to face the eventual WPIAL champion in the PIAA state tournament.

BOYS WPIAL CLASS AAA Fifth Place Consolation Game:

Mars Fighting Planets 82 – Hampton Talbots 57 
The Mars Planets captured the fifth seed in the PIAA Triple A boys basketball tournament on Thursday night with an 82-67 win over the Hampton Talbots at North Allegheny High School in the final Play-in game.  The teams were tied at 27 at the end of the first period before the Planets took a 49-46 lead into the half.  But Hampton went cold in the third period, scoring just two points, as Mars took a 62-48 lead with eight minutes to play.  The Planets (24-2) were led by junior Alex Gruber with 34 points, including seven 3-point field goals, junior John Castello with 14, and junior Bailey Trzeciak and freshman Robby Carmody with 13 each.  Hampton was paced by sophomore Antonio Ionadi with 25 and senior Jack Morrison with 14.  Both teams combined to convert 24 field goals from beyond the arc.  With the loss, Hampton (20-6) enters the state playoff tournament as the sixth seed from District 7.

BOYS WPIAL CLASS AAA Seventh Place Consolation Game:

South Fayette Lions 65 – Highlands Golden Rams 51 
No. 7 South Fayette (19-6) knocked down seven three-pointers and Jack Relihan scored 17 points as the Lions claimed the seventh and final WPIAL AAA Boys Basketball seed in the PIAA Playoffs, beating No. 13 Highlands 65-51 on Thursday night at Fox Chapel High School. Relihan scored eight of his points in the first quarter, as South Fayette led 15-14 after one. But the Lions’ defense got stingy after that, outscoring Highlands 16-10 in the second quarter. With time expiring, Jake Thomas would hit the second of his four three pointers, giving South Fayette a 31-24 lead at the break. Thomas (14 total points), Brett Brumbaugh (13 points) and Nick McKee (10 points) would all score eight points in the second half, sending the Lions to the PIAA Playoffs for the fifth time in seven seasons. Highlands (13-14) was led by Kaison Branch (12 points), Mitch Dezort (11 points), Brayden Thimons (11 points) and Levontae Martin (8 points, 15 rebounds). The Golden Rams will only lose two seniors and only one starter (Branch) to graduation and will not qualify for the PIAA Playoffs. South Fayette will play the WPIAL AAA Champion, either Indiana or Beaver Falls, next Friday in the PIAA First Round.

BOYS WPIAL CLASS AA Fifth Place Consolation Game:

Lincoln Park Leopards 70 – Neshannock Lancers 43 
Playing without their leading scorer, the Leopards cruised to an easy win at Ambridge on Thursday night. Sophomore Nelly Cummings suffered an ankle injury, he was limited to just five minutes in Tuesday night’s win over OLSH. Cummings averaged 24.5 points during the regular season and dropped in 24 in both games against the Lancers this season.
Senior Antonio Kellum picked up the scoring slack, scoring 20 points, 12 coming in the second half. Neshannock led after one quarter 11-10 but Lincoln Park used a 9-0 run to take a 26-20 lead at the half, the Leopards used runs of nine and seven points to pull ahead 48-29 and never looked back. Senior Chance Tomasetti was the sparkplug for the Leopards, scoring all ten of his points in the second half. Coach Mike Bariski said that Tomasetti is their energy, junior Nick Aloi also stepped up with 17 points as Lincoln Park outscored Neshannock 44-23 in the second half. The Leopards were 8 of 10 from the foul line. The Leopards are now 23-3 overall, they will face either West Middlesex or Fairview in the state playoffs next Saturday. Those teams meet Friday night at Slippery Rock University for the District 10 title. Senior Jimmy Medure led the Lancers with 10 points, their leading scorer Ethan Moose was held to just 7, twelve below his average. It was the first time in 25 games that Moose had scored less than 10 points.  The Lancers were 3 of 5 from the stripe. Neshannock is now 17-8, the Lancers will face either Blairsville or West Branch in the opening round of the state playoffs, those teams play for the District 6 title on Saturday at St. Francis University.

BOYS WPIAL CLASS A Fifth Place Consolation Game:

Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic Trojans 44 – Cornell Trojans 31 
The Trojans advanced to the PIAA tournament with the win at Ambridge on Thursday night. Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic was able to control the tempo and pace of the game and took advantage of every opportunity to move to 16-9 on the season. CWNC led 18-13 after one quarter, paced by sophomore Ken Fukom, he scored 7 of his game high 11 points in the frame. The Trojans used great defense and controlled the defensive glass to only allow the Raiders 18 points in the final three quarters. CWNC led by as many as 10 in the second. Coach Dave Long said the Trojans got good shots and the looks that they wanted, that he preached to play controlled basketball and get the tempo to their liking. Timon Gribben scored 10 points for the Trojans, all in the first half, Vince LeGrande added 8 and grabbed a dozen rebounds and blocked four shots in the win. CWNC was 4 of 10 from the foul line, the Trojans will now face the District 9 champion in the first round of the state playoffs next Friday. That title game is tomorrow at Clarion University between Clarion Limestone and Cameron County. Cornell was led by Pitt football recruit Dane Jackson with 17 points, the Raiders end the season at 14-11. Head coach Bill Sacco will also end his season with 400 wins, he accomplished that feat on Tuesday against California.

GIRLS WPIAL CLASS AAAA 5th Place Consolation Game:

Pine-Richland Rams 54 – Shaler Titans 40 
Amanda Kalin started the game fast for the Rams, nailing two of her five three pointers to give Pine-Richland an early 6-0 lead and the three-point theme would continue for the Rams as they would connect 12 times from behind the arc to grab the 54-40 win over the Titans at North Allegheny High School and secure the fifth seed from the WPIAL in the PIAA Girls AAAA Playoffs. The Rams led by 5 points after the first quarter but Shaler started the second with a quick burst and took their only lead at 15-14 at the 5:24 mark. But the Rams regrouped and Pine-Richland led 25-21 at halftime. Shaler was never able to overcome the Rams hot shooting and the Titans fell to Pine-Richland for the second time in three weeks and saw their season end at (20-6). Kalin, the sophomore guard, who came into the game averaging 20.3 PPG, led all scorers with 25 points. She added 11 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal to pace the Rams in the win. Kalin was the only Rams player in double figures but not the only player hot from three-point range. Caitlyn Byerly, Kaitlyn Jenkins and Megan Grzybek each hit two three-pointers for Pine-Richland and Gianna DeTemple added one trey for her only points off the night. Kalin scored 93 points in the four playoff games for the Rams and was the leading scorer in all four contests. Senior Lizzie Kline led the Titans with 12 points in her final game. Sophomore guard Rylee Donovan added 11 points and a team high 5 rebounds for Shaler. Senior Andi Lydon ended her fine career on a bit of a low note, scoring only 6 points and grabbing just two rebounds in the defeat. Pine-Richland, who was the fifth seed in the WPIAL Tournament, will head to the State Tournament as the 5th seed from District 7. The Rams will face the eventual WPIAL Quad-A Champion. Penn Hills and Norwin will do battle Saturday night at the Peterson Events Center and the winner will become the top seed from the WPIAL and will face (21-5) Pine-Richland next Friday March 6th in the first round of the PIAA tournament. The Rams are making their first appearance in the State Playoffs since losing to State College in the Preliminary Round in 2012.

GIRLS WPIAL CLASS AAA 5th Place Consolation Game:

Beaver Bobcats 64 – South Park Eagles 46 
Beaver broke open a close game by outscoring South Park 21-8 in the fourth quarter to win the WPIAL AAA girls fifth seed play-in game Thursday night, 64-46.  Rider University recruit Lexi Posset had 11 of her 32 points in that decisive final period to pace the Lady Bobcats.  Freshman Bella Posset, Lexi’s sister, added 11 points including three 3-pointers in the first half which helped Beaver overcome a 19-17 deficit after the first quarter to lead at the half, 31-27.  Allison McGrath led the Lady Eagles with 14 points, as South Park slipped to 15-12.  The Eagles are the sixth seed with the loss and will meet WPIAL champion Blackhawk or South Fayette in the first round of the PIAA playoffs on March 7.  Beaver is now 19-8 and receives the fifth seed with the victory.  The Lady Bobcats will also play on March 7 in a state first round affair against the champion from District 10.

GIRLS WPIAL CLASS AAA 7th Place Consolation Game:

McGuffey Highlanders 68 – Trinity Hillers 59
Sammie Weiss erupted for 24 points in the second half, 16 in the fourth quarter, leading McGuffey past Trinity, 68-59, winning the WPIAL’s seventh and final berth in the PIAA AAA Girls playoffs.  Trinity led by five at the half and by six points with 6:30 to play in the game.  That’s when Weiss and Rachel Czulewicz took over.  Two of the three McGuffey senior starters combined for seven two’s, two three’s and six straight makes from the foul line.  Rachel Phillis scored 18 points for Trinity, all after the break, including 12 in the third, helping the Hillers (17-9) lead by eight with less than two minutes to play in the third.  Sierra Kotchman finished with 13 points for Trinity, 10 in the first half.  Weiss finished with 32 points, 8-for-8 at the foul line.  Czulewicz had 17 points in the win.  McGuffey (19-8) hit 15 of 18 free throws.  Trinity was 6-for-12, all in the first half.  The Highlanders will play the WPIAL runner-up, either Blackhawk or South Fayette, in the first round of the PIAA playoffs next Saturday.

GIRLS WPIAL CLASS AA 5th Place Consolation Game:

Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Chargers 49 – Greensburg Central Catholic Centurions 44
Fox Chapel High School was the site for the WPIAL AA 5-6 play in game between Our Lady of Sacred Heart and Greensburg Central Catholic.  GCC jumped out to an early 15-4 lead after the 1st quarter behind Carolyn Appleby’s 11 points.  In the second quarter OLSH came alive outscoring GCC 19-7 to take a 23-22 lead into the half.  Courtney Alexander and Heidi Langhorst each had 6 points and Monica Lohman added 4 to key the Chargers resurgence.  The second half continued to be very closely played between the two teams as OLSH just passed GCC 12-10 in the third period to increase their lead to 35-32 at the end of 3.  Again Alexander and Langhorst led OLSH with 5 and 6 points respectively.  The final stanza saw OLSH edge GCC 14-12 for the final score of 49-44.  Langhorst did the most damage in the 4th quarter scoring 7 points and Anna Lohman chipped in 6 including a pair of clutch free throws that helped ice the victory.  GCC was led by Carolyn Appleby with 19 points, the only player to reach double figures for the Centurions, and Nicole Adisey with 9 points.  OLSH was led by 19 points from Langhorst and 11 points from Courtney Alexander.  With the win OLSH will enter the PIAA playoffs as the 5th seed from District 7 while GCC will go into the state playoffs as the 6th seed from the WPIAL.  OLSH improved their record to 21-4 while GCC fell to 20-4.

GIRLS WPIAL CLASS AA 7th Place Consolation Game:

Chartiers-Houston Buccaneers 48 – Neshannock Lancers 45
Jules Vulcano scored the last seven points of the game, helping Chartiers-Houston to a 48-45 victory over Neshannock, claiming the WPIAL’s final berth in the PIAA AA Girls playoffs.  The Bucs (17-9) built a 14 point halftime lead, holding the Lancers to just one field goal in the second quarter.  CHHS extended the lead to 18 points with 4 minutes to play in the third before Madison McHale hit a couple of treys and exploded for 10 points in the final minutes of the quarter.  The Bucs pushed the margin back to 10 with just over five minutes to play.  Neshannock (19-6) got a field goal from Mealey McHale on a put-back, then Madison McHale swished home a trey, cutting the CHHS lead to five.  Vulcano buried a trey on the next trip up the floor, letting the Bucs exhale, at least for a moment.  Regan Moorhouse and Madison McHale scored six points over the next two minutes, getting the Lancers to within two with just under two minutes to play.  Both teams then missed chances before Vulcano was fouled, hitting both free throws with 27 seconds to play.  Anna Warvell’s three-pointer cut the margin to one but a pass over top of the defense allowed Vulcano a layup to seal the victory.  Alexa Williamson led the Bucs with 14 points.  Jala Youngblood scored 12, all in the first half.  McHale had game honors with 20 points, all but one after intermission.  Chartiers-Houston will travel to play the District 10 champion, either West Middlesex or Harbor Creek, next Friday night.

GIRLS WPIAL CLASS A 5th Place Consolation Game:

California Trojans 48 – Serra Catholic Eagles 35 
California opened up the game on a 22 to 4 run and held on in the 2nd Half as the Trojans qualified for the PIAA playoffs with a 48 to 35 win over Serra Catholic on Thursday Night at Peters Township High School.   Senior Lyndsey Huhn lead California with 18 points and now has 999 career points for her high school basketball career.  Serra Catholic senior Katie Sieg lead all scorers with 22 points in the final game of her high school career.  Serra’s season ends with a 15-9 record.  California’s record improves to 24-2 and the Trojans will face the District 9 champs in the 1st round of the PIAA Playoffs a week from Saturday.



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