WPIAL Basketball Playoff Recaps for Tuesday, February 24th
Wednesday, February 25, 2015 | 1:28 AM
Semifinals Tuesday had to share a crowded stage with Round One Consolations. while many teams were fighting for a second chance and a PIAA berth, 16 teams in Boys AAA, Boys A, Girls AAAA and Girls AA were still following the dreams of district gold. Here are recaps from a busy Tuesday night around District 7.
A special thanks to Jason Kern, Mark Uriah, Jason Tennant, T.J. DiStefano, Bob Barrickman, Steve Nagler, Dennis Fischer, Sam Hall, Terry Neary, Bob Gregg, Lee Mohn, Sean Meyers, Mike Sackley, Randy Gore, Mark Schaas, Lou Rood and Josh Rowntree for their help on these recaps.
BOYS WPIAL CLASS AAA Semifinals:
Indiana Little Indians 54 – Ambridge Bridgers 45
TRAILING BY ONE AFTER THREE QUARTERS, INDIANA OUTSCORED AMBRIDGE 23-13 IN THE FOURTH TO WIN THE WPIAL BOYS AAA SEMIFINAL TUESDAY AT FOX CHAPEL, 54-45. THE VICTORY PUTS THE LITTLE INDIANS IN THE LEAGUE BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP FOR THE FIRST TIME IN SCHOOL HISTORY. INDIANA GOT A WELL BALANCED SCORING EFFORT LED BY DYLAN STAPLETON WITH 11 POINTS. THE BRIDGERS RECEIVED 18 POINTS FROM DAYLON CARTER AND DARIUS LAWRENCE WAS CLOSE BEHIND WITH 16. AMBRIDGE, 16-8, CAME CLOSE TO THEIR FIRST APPEARANCE IN THE WPIAL TITLE GAME SINCE 1984 BUT WILL SETTLE FOR A PIAA BERTH AND PLAY ITS FIRST GAME IN TEN DAYS. INDIANA HAS NOW WON EIGHT STRAIGHT AND WILL MEET SECOND SEED BEAVER FALLS IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME ON FRIDAY AT 9PM. THE LITTLE INDIANS WILL TAKE A 23-2 RECORD INTO THE CONTEST TO BE HELD AT THE PETERSEN EVENTS CENTER.
Beaver Falls Tigers 52 – New Castle Red Hurricane 49
The reign of the Red Hurricanes is over, ended by the Tigers at Geneva College on Tuesday night. Senior Keyan Gibson’s three-pointer with 10.4 seconds to play gave Beaver Falls the lead for good, the Tigers return to the finals after a year’s absence after winning back to back Class AA titles in 2012-13. Gibson’s corner three came just seconds after freshman Marcus Hooker drove the lane and scored for New Castle to put the Red Hurricanes up 48-46. New Castle had an opportunity to try and win the game but sophomore Geno Stone tried to dribble thru defenders and turned the ball over, leading to a Zach Duffy basket and foul with .8 seconds remaining. New Castle still had an opportunity to tie the game as Beaver Falls was assessed a technical foul for players leaving the bench after the Duffy basket. The senior drained the free throw, junior Micah Fulena made one of two foul shots on the technical, Stone missed an off-balance three at the buzzer to end the game. The game saw 12 ties and 16 lead changes, New Castle led 12-11 after one and 25-23 at the half. Sophomore Donovan Jeter allowed Beaver Falls to stay with New Castle in the fourth, scoring six of his game high 21 points in the final frame. Those points gave Beaver Falls a 46-42 lead, but New Castle came back, Stone hit two free throws and Fulena had a steal and was fouled, hitting both attempts to tie the game at 46, setting up the dramatic final minute. Senior Javon Turner added 11 points, sophomore Josh Creach had 8, ten under his average, he was in and out of the game all night and fouled out. The Tigers go to 22-2 overall and have now won 14 straight games, Beaver Falls shot 8 of 15 from the line and committed 15 turnovers. The Tigers will attempt to win their 10th WPIAL title and first Class AAA title since 1994. New Castle was led by junior Marquel Hooker with 16 points, he also fouled out. Marcus Hooker added 12 points, Stone scored 10. The Red Hurricanes fall to 20-5 overall, having lost to the Tigers three times this season. New Castle shot 17 of 23 from the line, the Red Hurricanes turned the ball over 11 times.
BOYS WPIAL CLASS A Semifinals:
Jeannette Jayhawks 52 – Eden Christian Academy Warriors 40
The Jeannette Jayhawks built a 20 point lead early in the 4th quarter and withstood a furious comeback by Eden Christian and finally going on to a 52-40 victory securing a spot in the WPAL A finals this coming Friday night. Jeannette came out cold in the first quarter and fell behind 10-4 at the end of one quarter. If it was not the effort on the offensive boards things could have been worse. The Jayhawks turned up the defensive pressure in the 2nd quarter holding the Warriors to 4 points while Swade Redman scored 8 points in the quarter to give Jeannette a 22-14 lead at the half. The Jayhawks would build a 20 lead before Eden would go on a 14-0 run to cut the lead to 6 points with four minutes to go. Eden had a chance after a technical foul on Jeannette but they missed both free throws and then missed a lay up and Jeannette converted on the other end and the miracle comeback was put out. Julian Batts led the Jayhawks with 15 points including 9-10 from the free throw line. Also Swade Redman had 15 points. Freshman David Ritchie led the Warriors with 11 points. Jeannette will now face Monessen in the finals on Friday night while Eden Christian will make their first ever appearance in the state playoffs next Friday night as the #3 or #4 seed from District 7.
Monessen Greyhounds 85 – Vincentian Academy Royals 73
A rematch of last years’ historic semifinal between these two teams took place at a packed Baldwin gym Tuesday evening, and even though it didn’t match last years’ epic 110-99 Monessen victory, it followed a storyline just as exciting as last years’ game. The game was played at breakneck speed through the first two quarters and it couldn’t have been any closer with Monessen clinging to a 20-19 lead after one and trailing Vincentian 42-40 at the half. Lavalle Rush put on quite a show in the first half for the Greyhounds scoring 19 of Monessen’s 40 points. Backing him up was Justice Rice with 8 and Dwight Moore with 5. Jamison Nee led Vincentians first half scoring with 11 followed by Jay Cortese with 9, and Ryan Wolf with 8. The action was fast and furious between the #2 seeded Greyhounds and the #3 seeded Royals. Everyone was anticipating a similar second half but both teams ended up fouling much more than the first half which slowed down the play and changed the tempo dramatically. Eleven foul shots were taken in a choppy 3rd quarter that saw Vincentian outscore Monessen 22-16 to increase their lead to 8, 54-46 heading into the final stanza. The Royals upped their lead to 9 with just over 4 minutes remaining in the game, when following a little dustup between players, a water bottle came out of the crowd onto the floor as the officials were restoring order. This led to security being called in and roughly half of the Monessen students located under the Greyhound basket being removed from the gym. This fired up the Greyhound crowd which in turn passed this energy onto the team. Coming out of the timeout, the Greyhounds took control of the game and never let up. They went from trailing by 9 to winning by 12 as they outscored Vincentian 29-10 in the decisive 4th quarter. Lavalle Rush who had not scored in the 3rd quarter led the Monessen charge with 12 4th quarter points, while Justice Rice added 6 and Noah Rullo 5. The 4th quarter saw Monessen shoot 18-24 from the foul line as Vincentian was forced to foul once they fell behind. In all 38 foul shots were attempted by both teams in the 4th quarter. Vincentian had 27 fouls called on them in the game and lost Jamison Nee and Ryan Wolf to fouls. Monessen had 23 fouls called on them and lost Jaden Altemore to fouls. Nee was Vincentian’s leading scorer with 22 before fouling out. Jack Monahan, Jay Cortese, and Ryan Wolf each tallied 11 for the Royals and Ian Taylor also finished in double figures with 10. Lavalle Rush led the Greyhounds with 31 followed by Justice Rice with 21 and Noah Rullo with 10. Monessen returns to the championship game for the second straight year and with take on Jeanette at the Pete.
BOYS WPIAL CLASS AAAA Round One Consolations:
Hempfield Spartans 70 – Bethel Park Black Hawks 56
On the heels of a deflating defeat to Fox Chapel on Monday, the Hempfield Area Spartans responded with an impressive performance, prevailing 70-56 against Bethel Park in the Class Quad-A play-in bracket at North Hills High School. After struggling offensively the prior night, the Spartans (21-3) exploded for 21 points in the opening quarter, including 10 by senior center Tony Pilato. Although Pilato did not score in the second quarter, Hempfield extended its lead by heating up from behind the arc. Conversely, the Black Hawks (16-9) struggled to find their stroke from distance, although Joey Mascaro’s 12 first-half points kept the team within striking distance. Staked to a 10-point lead at the half, the Spartans continued to play tight defense, despite losing forward Logan Swan to a head injury. With Swan sidelined and standout Kason Harrell battling cramps, the Spartans maintained control, and notched the victory by scoring 25 points in the final frame. Harrell shouldered the offensive burden for Hempfield Area, as he netted a game-high 24 points, including 19 after the intermission. Pilato added 19 in the victory, while senior Zack Irwin contributed 10. In the defeat, Mascaro notched 15 points, while center Jacob Dixon scored 11. While the Black Hawks season comes to an end, the Spartans will face Mount Lebanon on Thursday with the fifth and final PIAA postseason bid on the line.
Mount Lebanon Blue Devils 48 – Upper St. Clair Panthers 32
Matt Hoffman scored 14 of his game-high 18 points in the second half, lifting No. 3 Mt. Lebanon (19-6) to a 48-32 win over rival Upper St. Clair (17-8) in a Boys Class AAAA WPIAL Play-In First Round Game at West Allegheny High School. With the win, the Blue Devils advance to the WPIAL Fifth Place Play-In Game and will face Hempfield on Thursday for the final PIAA Playoff spot out of District Seven. With a slow, methodical, defensive pace throughout, scoring was at a premium for the duration of the contest. Mt. Lebanon jumped out to an early 14-9 lead after the first quarter before senior guard Jonny David would take over. David, son of Blue Devils coach Joey David, scored all nine of Mt. Lebanon’s points in the second quarter, giving his team a 23-15 halftime lead. While David would cool off in the second half, finishing with 15 points, Hoffman would get hot. The senior forward grabbed eight rebounds to go along with his 18 points, while Mark Lamendola added ten points and six rebounds. Upper St. Clair, who fell to the Blue Devils for a third time this season, were led by Doug Wagner’s eight points and four rebounds.
BOYS WPIAL CLASS AAA Round One Consolations:
Mars Fighting Planets 61 – Highlands Golden Rams 57
The Mars Planets rebounded from their early exit in the WPIAL Boys AAA Championship by holding off the Highlands Golden Rams in the first round of the PIAA Consolation bracket. The Planets were paced by both Alex Gruber and John Castello who led the way by scoring 19 points each en route to the 4-point win. The Planets built a 30-26 halftime lead that they extended to fifteen points midway through the 3rd quarter but the Rams went on a 13-2 run late in the 3rd and early in the 4th quarter to claw back into the contest. The Rams were able to cut the lead to 56-54 with less than 30 seconds in the game but Mars got clutch foul shooting down the stretch by Castello (3-4 from the line) and Alex Gruber (2-2 from the line) to get the victory. Highlands was led by sophomores Ryan Boda (14), Mitch Dezort (13) and Brayden Thimons, who had 11 points before fouling out. The Golden Rams season ends with a record of 13-13 while the Planets (23-2) advance to play the Hampton Talbots in one of the two PIAA play-in games on Thursday night, site and time to be determined.
Hampton Talbots 61 – South Fayette Lions 46
The Hampton Talbots qualified for the PIAA boys basketball tournament with a 61-46 win over the South Fayette Lions at North Allegheny High School on Tuesday night in the one of four Play-in games to determine the final three seedings in Triple A. In a slow start by both teams, the game was tied at 11 at the end of the first period. Hampton took a 29-26 lead into the half as the two teams struggled offensively. But the Talbots poured in 20 points in the third quarter while holding the Lions to 5 to take control of the game with just eight minutes to play. Hampton was led by senior Jack Morrison with 17 points, senior Joey Lafko with 13, senior Dave Huber with 11, and sophomore Antonio Ionadi with 10. Senior Brett Brumbaugh had 12 for South Fayette. Hampton (20-5) will meet Mars, a 61-57 winner over Highlands in the other Play-in game, on Thursday night at North Allegheny High School, with the winner claiming the fifth seed in the PIAA tournament in District 7 while the losing team will be seeded sixth. South Fayette (18-6) will play Highlands, also on Thursday night, the winner earning the seventh seed in the state playoffs while the losing team will see its season end.
BOYS WPIAL CLASS AA Round One Consolations:
Neshannock Lancers 58 – Bishop Canevin Crusaders 42
Ethan Moose and Jimmy Medure dominated the first half, propelling Neshannock to a 58-42 win over Bishop Canevin, clinching a berth in the PIAA AA Boys playoffs and eliminating the Crusaders. The two combined for 14 points in the first quarter, including Moose’s three pointer that put the Lancers in front to stay with just over a minute remaining in the quarter. All ten Neshannock points in the second came off their hands as well. The Crusaders trailed 20-19 a minute into the second quarter but were outdone, 16-3 over the next 10 minutes and never threatened again. Bishop Canevin (17-8) hit seven treys in the game, three by Reed Relosky. After winning nine games to start the season, the Crusaders went 8-8 the rest of the way. Neshannock (17-7) have won 9 of the last 12 and locked up a state berth, thanks to 19 points from Moose, 16 more from Medure who dominated the boards at both ends of the floor. Neshannock will play Lincoln Park for positioning entering the state tourney.
Lincoln Park Leopards 50 – Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Chargers 47
The Lincoln Park Leopards and the OLSH Chargers used to meet twice a season when they were section mates in WPIAL Class A the past few seasons with many of the games being tough battles. Last night they had their first game since both moved to Class AA and it proved to be more of the same as the Leopards nipped the Chargers 50-47 in a PIAA “Play-in” game at Wright Fieldhouse in Ambridge. Lincoln Park lost their leading scorer Nelly Cummings with a leg injury about five minutes into the game, but his teammates persevered in the face of a stifling OLSH defense. In fact, both teams were at times outstanding on D during the game. The Leopards led 31-27 at the half, but did not score a third quarter point until the 3:25 mark. OLSH outscored them 9-5 in the quarter and the teams went to the break tied at 36. the Chargers actually took a 45-40 lead halfway through the fourth, but could not hold that lead. Senior Antonio Kellam was huge for the Leopards during the last four minutes and led his club with 15 points. Senior Hunter Szilagy had 15 to pace the Chargers. Lincoln Park (22-4) will now meet either Bishop Canevin or Neshannock to determine the 5 and 6 seeds in the state tournament, while the Chargers’ season ends at 15-9.
BOYS WPIAL CLASS A Round One Consolation:
Cornell Raiders 54 – California Trojans 43
The 2014-2015 season will continue for the Cornell Raiders boys basketball team as they defeated the California Trojans 54-43 at Peters Township High School Tuesday night and earn a chance to play for a state playoff berth. It’s a new system in the WPIAL that allows teams to play their way into the state playoffs and both coaches were happy to have the extra game and practice time. It was a very evenly contested affair with California leading 25-20 at halftime. The Trojans went on a late run at the half as Cornell’s leading scorer, senior Dane Jackson had to sit the bench with three fouls. Jackson was a force all night long, He had 10 points in the first half and came on strong in the 2nd half to finish with 17. The Raiders played a strong 4th quarter, outscoring California 21-11. One of the key components in Cornell’s late run was junior Blake Lipke, who scored 14 points on the night and eight in the 4th quarter. The Trojans got strong performances from sophomore Kass Taylor and senior Tray Matthews, who scored 12 and 18 points, respectively. The Raiders will have a chance to play for a chance at the PIAA playoffs when they take on Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic on Thursday. The Raiders improve to (14-10). The Trojans will a good contingent of players next season as their season ends at (17-7)
GIRLS WPIAL CLASS AAAA Semifinals:
Penn Hills Indians 52 – Bethel Park Black Hawks 39
The #9 seeded Penn Hills Indians continued their 2015 run through the playoffs knocking off yet another higher seeded team in defeating #4 Bethel Park 52-39 at Baldwin. The win will advance Penn Hills to its first Finals appearance since 1995. Despite starting slow offensively, the Indians only managed 4 points in the opening quarter, Penn Hills played stifling defense throughout the game and kept Bethel Park off balance by denying them their inside game and forcing the Blackhawks to shoot from long range. Bethel Park did manage to hit 7 treys in the game but it was not enough to counter the slashing penetration based offense of Penn Hills. Bethel Park led after one 11-4 and had a slim 20-16 margin at the half behind 3 threes from Mia Mattes and 2 threes from Shannon Conely accounting for 15 of the Blackhawks 20 points. After the break however it was all Penn Hills as they came out of the locker room on fire and ran past BP 21-5 in the 3rd to take control of the game. Jade Ely and Marlon Herring each scored 6 to key Penn Hills run which gave PH the 37-25 lead after 3. The 4th quarter saw BP try to mount a comeback, but they fell short as Mattes added 2 more treys but it was not enough. Penn Hills outscored Bethel Park 15-14 in the final stanza to finish with the win and a trip to the finals at the Petem where they will take on Norwin. Desiree Oliver led Penn Hills with 15 points followed by Jade Ely with 14 points and Marlon Herring with 11 points. Mia Mattes was the leading scorer for BP with 15 followed by Shannon Conely with 10 and Justina Mascaro with 7. Bethel Park qualifies for the PIAA state playoffs which will begin next week.
Norwin Knights 60 – North Allegheny Tigers 52
The Norwin Knights built a 13-point lead in the second half and held off a furious North Allegheny rally for a 60-52 victory and a trip to the WPIAL Championship Game. The Knights will face the Penn Hills Indians in the title tilt on Saturday at 7:00 pm from the Peterson Events Center. The Knights led 27-25 at halftime and used an 11-0 run to open the third quarter for a 38-25 lead. Norwin’s Alayna Gribble and Delaney Arbore were key to the run as both players drained 3-pointers during the span. Gribble finished with a game-high 21 points. Norwin’s lead was 43-30 late in the third quarter before the Tigers began to fight back. Senior Devvin LaBarge hit a buzzer-beating trey to end the period and cut the deficit to 43-35 heading to the fourth quarter. LaBarge poured in three 3-pointers for the Tigers and totaled nine points. Foul trouble cost Meg Morningstar and Hailey Zeise some floor time in the first three quarters, but with a trip to the championship game on the line both were valuable to NA’s rally. Morningstar scored eight points in the fourth quarter and Zeise forced numerous Norwin turnovers as the Tigers charged back to within 47-45 midway through the final stanza. The Tigers could come no closer, however, as several buckets by Gribble down the stretch and clutch free throws by sophomore Danielle McMaster sealed the win for the Knights. McMaster ended the evening with 10 points and was 6 for 7 from the charity stripe. Taylor Sabol added 11 points with most of her work coming in the first half. North Allegheny was paced by junior Abby Gonzales’ 13 points and 10 rebounds. Morningstar also posted a double-double with 10 points and 10 boards. Junior Taylor Lake totaled 12 points and four steals. Norwin improves to 20-4 on the season and snaps North Allegheny’s 18-game winning streak. The Tigers slip to 22-3 on the year and will continue their season in the PIAA tournament next week. The Tigers last loss came on December 18, a 50-48 defeat to the Norwin Knights.
GIRLS WPIAL CLASS AA Semifinals:
Seton-LaSalle Rebels 40 – Carlynton Cougars 35
When it mattered most, experience shined brightest… and coolest. Top-ranked and defending WPIAL Girls AA Champion Seton-LaSalle (18-7) held off a tenacious No. 4 Carlynton (19-6) in a hard-fought 40-35 victory in the AA Semifinals at West Allegheny High School. With the win, the Rebels advance to the WPIAL Championships for a seventh consecutive season, where they will meet rival Bishop Canevin on Friday at 5pm at the Petersen Events Center. Of Seton-LaSalle’s 40 points, 14 came at the free-throw line, where the Rebels finished 14-of-17, including 7-of-8 in the fourth quarter. Carlynton, perhaps more notably, was just 4-of-14 at the line. A slow, turnover-filled first half resulted in a 16-10 lead for the Rebels after two quarters, as Morgan Henderson scored seven of her ten points in the first 16 minutes. But the pace of the second half would rev up dramatically, as Carlynton star and Duquesne recruit would take over, scoring 20 of her 22 points in the final 16 minutes and helping tie the game at 35-35, before Henderson and Shaunay Endmonds hit five free throws in the final minute. She and Pitt recruit Cassidy Walsh battled throughout, with both making a large impact on the game’s 47 turnovers. Henderson added a game-high 16 rebounds for the Rebels, while Edmonds added 10 points, including a 6-of-6 performance at the line down the stretch. Carlynton’s Abigail Greiner scored just six points, but grabbed a team-high 13 rebounds in the loss. Despite falling a game short of “The Pete,” Carlynton’s season is not over, as they will either be the third or fourth seeded team from District Seven in the PIAA Playoffs. Seton-LaSalle, who defeated Burrell in last year’s Championship Game, lost to Bishop Canevin in the 2013 Championship Game and defeated the Crusaders in the 2012 title game. This will be the 17th meeting between the Rebels and Crusaders in the last five seasons.
Bishop Canevin Crusaders 32 – Burrell Buccaneers 30
The Bishop Canevin Crusaders knocked off the second-seed Burrell Bucs in Girls AA semifinal action at Hampton high school Tuesday night by a final margin of 32-30. Canevin was led by sophomore Sarah Green who scored seven of her team-high 11 points in the decisive fourth quarter. Burrell led by three at the end of one, by two at the half and by a single point at the end of the third but could not hold on to try and set up the rematch of last years final in girls AA against defending champion Seton LaSalle. Freshman Lauren Gamble added nine points for the Crusaders in the win. Burrell was led by Sydney Bordanaro who scored a game-high 15 points but was held to two points in the final frame. The points that Green scored were huge but maybe not as huge as the defensive effort she put forward against the Buccaneer’s 6′ junior Natalie Myers as she held Myers to just eight points on the night. Green also gets credited for the steal in the waning seconds of the game that sealed the deal for the Crusaders. Clinging to a two point lead, the Crusaders saw Burrell getting set to inbound under their own hoop and Green knifed in front of the pass from Bordanaro intended for Myers, slapped it away where it was stolen by Gina Vallecorsa. The Crusaders improve to 16-9 and will take on Section 3 rival Seton LaSalle for the WPIAL Championship. Head coach Tim Joyce was delighted by the win, “It means a lot to these young kids and it means a lot to our program you know this is our third trip to the finals now in four years and these young kids are not freshman anymore.” Canevin fell to Seton both times during the regular season but played the Rebels to the final seconds in the regular season finale. Burrell meanwhile continues on in the state tournament as they fall to 21-4 on the year.
GIRLS WPIAL CLASS AAAA Round One Consolations:
Pine-Richland Rams 51 – Penn-Trafford Warriors 36
The #5 seed Pine Richland Lady Rams eliminated the #1 seed and defending WPIAL champion Penn Trafford Lady Warriors from the state playoffs with an impressive 51-36 win in the first round PIAA consolation game at North Allegheny High School Wednesday night. The Rams were in control from start to finish and the Warriors playoff struggles continued for the third straight postseason contest. Pine Richland outscored Penn Trafford 13-5 in both the first and second quarters to lead 26-10 at the half. The Warriors had only two field goals the entire first half. The third quarter would be the best for Penn Trafford as they outscored the Rams 18-15, but they would still trail 41-28 after three. Maria Palarino led the third quarter charge with 8 points. Pine Richland had two players in double figures led by Amanda Kalin with 17 points. Caitlyn Byerly added 14. They were 8 of 9 from the foul line. Penn Trafford also had two players in double figures led by Maria Palarino with 16 and Kylie Grabowski with 11. PT went 7 of 10 from the charity stripe. Pine Richland improves to 20-5 and will play #6 Shaler on Thursday night with the winner becoming the 5th in the PIAA playoffs. The Rams beat the Titans back on January 12th 51-49 at Shaler. Penn Trafford’s season ends at 22-3.
GIRLS WPIAL CLASS AAA Round One Consolations:
Beaver Bobcats 41 – Trinity Hillers 36
Lexi Posset scored 28 of Beaver’s 41 points, as the Bobcats downed Trinity in a AAA Girls PIAA play – in bracket game. The Hillers led 23-19 at halftime, but managed only 13 second-half points. The lead changed hands throughout the fourth quarter, with a one-point margin shifting back and forth until a steal by Beaver’s Bella Posset allowed the Bobcats to up its lead to 3, and clutch foul-shooting by Lexi Posset sealed the win. Mary Dunn led Trinity with 14 points. Beaver (18-8) will face South Park for 5th place, while Trinity (17-8) will take on section rival McGuffey for 7th place, and the WPIAL’S final spot in the PIAA playoffs. Both games will be played Thursday night. The Hillers and Highlanders split their two section games this season, with each team winning on the other’s floor.
South Park Eagles 74 – McGuffey Highlanders 59
South Park qualified for the PIAA State Tournament by defeating McGuffey 74-59. South Park started quickly by taking the opening tip to the basket for an easy layup from Brittany Andrews. The Lady Eagles never looked back from that point. South Park was relentless with their press defense and forced McGuffey to make ill advised passes that were picked off and turned into points for the Lady Eagles. South Park was led by Junior Allison McGrath who scored a team high 22 points. McGuffey Senior Sammie Weiss did the best she could to keep her team in the game by scoring a game high 34 points. The Lady Highlander cut South Park’s lead to 6 points 4 separate times only to have the Lady Eagles extend their lead to double digits each time. Four Lady Eagle players scored double digits, McGrath (22), Alyssa Greer (19), Natalie Clydesdale (18) and Andrews (12). McGuffey will face Section rival Trinity on Thursday night for the 7th and final qualifying spot in the PIAA AAA playoffs.
GIRLS WPIAL CLASS AA Round One Consolations:
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Chargers 47 – Neshannock Lancers 36
The OLSH Lady Chargers got big scoring games from their top players to defeat the Neshannock Lady Lancers 47-36 last night in a PIAA “Play-in” game at Ambridge High School’s Wright Fieldhouse. Senior Heidi Langhorst scored a game high 21 points and junior Courtney Alexander was right behind her with 18. After a fairly tight first quarter, OLSH took charge, outscoring the Lady Lancers 14-4 in the second with Langhorst doing much of the damage inside and at the foul line. Neshannock actually outscored the Lady Chargers 23-21 in the second half, but that only tightened the final score a little bit. Madison McHale did her best to try to get a comeback going, scoring 21 points for Neshannock, but it wasn’t enough. OLSH improves to 20-4 on the season, and will meet Greensburg Central Catholic on Thursday to determine the #5 and #6 teams going to the state tournament from the WPIAL. Neshannock falls to 19-5, and will match up with Chartiers Houston to decide which team will be the final WPIAL entry into the tournament.
Greensburg Central Catholic Centurions 48 – Chartiers-Houston Buccaneers 44
Carolyn Appleby and Nicole Adisey each scored 16 points, helping Greensburg Central Catholic hold off a late rally, downing Chartiers-Houston 48-44, clinching a berth in the PIAA AA Girls tournament. Four times, the Centurions built a double-digit lead including 44-34 early in the fourth. The young Bucs squad battled back to within two points twice in the final minute before Adisey and Brittany Stawovy hit four straight free throws to seal the win. Alexa Williamson led CHHS (16-9) with 15 points, most of them in close to the rim. Greensburg Central Catholic (20-3) hit eight three-pointers in the game, three by Abbey Mirgliano. Chartiers-Houston had two from Jules Vulcano. GCC faces Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Thursday to decide 5th/6th. CHHS will take on Neshannock for the 7th and final berth into the state bracket.
GIRLS WPIAL CLASS A Round One Consolations:
Serra Catholic Eagles 69 – Imani Christian Saints 40
Katie Sieg scored a game-high 27 points and No. 5 Serra Catholic (15-8) ran away with a 69-40 victory over a shorthanded No. 9 Imani Christian (16-7) in a Girls Class A WPIAL Play-In First Round Game at West Allegheny High School. Imani, playing with only six total players, was forced into early foul trouble as 6’6″ Center and North Carolina A&T recruit Channing James picked up three fouls in the first quarter and appeared to re-injure her surgically repaired ACL during the course of the game. After Aalyiah Fields hit a three-pointer at the first quarter buzzer, cutting the Saints’ deficit to 15-12, Serra Catholic would pull away, outscoring Imani 18-6 in the second quarter. Serra would cruise in the second half behind Sieg and 6’4″ Center Felicia Moon’s 15 points, seven rebounds and five blocks. Despite failing to score, Erin Almeter was a force on both ends, finishing with a game-high 13 rebounds for the Eagles, who advance to the WPIAL Fifth Place Play-In Game against California on Thursday night. The winner will be the final seed out of District Seven for the PIAA Playoffs. James and Dalesza Regan each scored eleven points, while James and Ailyah Smith each grabbed eleven rebounds for the Saints, who end their first WPIAL Postseason with the loss. All six players on Imani’s roster are seniors, raising questions about the future of the program.
California Trojans 59 – Jefferson-Morgan Rockets 42
After their quest for a WPIAL title ended in a tough overtime loss to Riverview in the quarterfinals the night before, the California Lady Trojans pulled to within one win of a berth in the PIAA Playoffs when they downed Jefferson-Morgan in their first consolation game, 59-42, at Peters Township High School. The win for California was the third this season over the Section 3-A rival Lady Rockets. California started strong and the Rockets were just the opposite as the Lady Trojans opened up with 12 points in the first quarter while Jefferson-Morgan only mustered a three-pointer by Anna Mattish off the bench in the opening frame. Rockets’ head coach Chris Niemic did his best to keep his players fresh as he would make multiple 5-player substitutions throughout the game. No matter the combination though, Jefferson-Morgan could not find an answer to the much taller California, specifically Kylie Huffman and Lindsey Huhn. The Rockets did find a spark in the second quarter relying almost entirely on the outside game. Ally Bogden and Kayla Yorko both hit twice from beyond the arc and Mattish added another as the Rockets, came out of nowhere to take the lead midway through the quarter. The two teams went back-and-forth for the last 4 minutes of the half. Two free throws with less than a second on the clock by Huhn gave the Trojans a one-point lead heading into the locker room, 25-24. Jefferson-Morgan never found that spark again as California started pulling away in the third by outscoring the Rockets by 9. The Rockets then faced an insurmountable deficit early in the fourth quarter, falling behind eventually by as many as 19 before losing, 59-42. Leading scorer for the game was Huffman with 17. Huhn would add 15 for California and Kat Pankratz scored 8. Jefferson-Morgan did not have a player reach double-digits as Mattish led the team with 9 points. Bogden and Yorko each finished with 8.
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• Leechburg boys pull away from Bishop Canevin after halftime
• Versatile Penn-Trafford looks to threaten in WPIAL playoffs