WPIAL Basketball Playoff Recaps From Tuesday, February 26th
Wednesday, February 27, 2013 | 12:22 AM
Two top seeds felt the pain of losing just short of the expected goal of a trip to the championships. Both Mount Lebanon girls and Lincoln Park boys wore the golden crowns a year ago, now they get an early jump start on preparing for the PIAA state playoffs. Here are recaps from the Boys Class AAA, Boys Class A, Girls Class AAAA and Girls Class AA Semifinals played on Tuesday.
A special thanks goes out to Mike Sackley, Lee Mohn, T.J. DiStefano, Bob Orkwis, Scott Briggs, Bob Gregg and Josh Rowntree for their help on these recaps.
WPIAL BOYS CLASS AAA Semifinals:
Chartiers Valley Colts 68 – Beaver Bobcats 43
Matty McConnell hit five three-pointers, three in the opening quarter as #1 Chartiers Valley bested Beaver Area, 68-43. Dominic Castello's second trey, less than a minute into the second, gave the Colts (21-3) a 23-9 lead. Aaron Barlow dropped in two field goals to cut the deficit to 10 before CV finished the half on a 9-2 run, capped by Michael Boulos' three-point play to close the half at 32-15. Spencer Casson's field goal/free throw pushed the lead to 20 early in the third before Beaver used several Colts' turnovers on a 10-point run, pulling within 35-25. Boulos, Castello and McConnell rolled 10-straight back the other way to put the game out of reach after three. When McConnell drained back-to-back treys 90 seconds into the fourth, it was all over but the celebration. The sophomore guard finished with 24 points. Boulos added 16, Casson 12 and Castello 10 for the Colts. Barlow's 15 paced Beaver Area (19-4) which had beaten Chartiers Valley in early January. Corey Nesmith added 12 points for the Bobcats, beaten in the semifinals for the second straight year, both times by the #1 seed.
Montour Spartans 61 – Mars Fighting Planets 52
The Montour Spartans get one more step into the playoffs than last year and find themselves in the finals against a familiar foe – the Chartiers Valley Colts. The top teams from Section 5 are the only ones left standing after Montour downed Mars on Tuesday night by imposing their style on the upstart Planets 61-52. Both teams exchanged the lead in the first half with the Spartans getting the halftime advantage 30-27. It was the third quarter that decided the game when neither team could put the pumpkin in the hole. Mars put the ball through the hoop three times for 5 points, but it was Montour whose 4 baskets – all of then three-pointers – stole the show. The Spartans led by 10 going into the final quarter, and despite a furious late comeback by the Planets, they hung on for the win. Montour’s Robert Julian led all scorers with 17, including 5 very timely 3-pointers. Kevin Scuilli added 15 and star point-guard Devin Wilson netted 12 while completely controlling the tempo of the game. The Planets had four players in double figures, but none with more than Josh Goetz’s 12. Zach May had 11 off the bench while Owen Nearhoff and Matt Getsy each added 10. Mars and Montour are now both 21-4, but the Spartans are the ones with at least two games left to play – and one of them no more important that the WPIAL Class AAA Championship.
WPIAL BOYS CLASS A Semifinals:
Clairton Bears 71 – Lincoln Park Leopards 70
The Clairton senior class is not done yet. Neither is Bears star Tyler Boyd. No. 5 Clairton (16-6) overcame an 11-point 4th quarter deficit, stunning No. 1 Lincoln Park (19-6) 71-70 in front of a jam-packed gymnasium at Keystone Oaks High School. Boyd, a Pitt football recruit and one of the most decorated athletes in WPIAL football history, scored 20 points, grabbed 8 rebounds and hit a running bank shot with 26 seconds to play, sending the Bears to their first WPIAL Championship game since 2006. Boyd's football teammates were terrific for Clairton as well. Titus Howard (19 points), Bryon Clifford (14 points) and Terrish Webb (10 points) all hit meaningful shots in the 4th quarter for the Bears. Clairton got out to a nice start, leading 17-13 after the 1st quarter, but would be outscored 48-33 over the next two quarters. Down 61-50 entering the 4th, Clairton would lock down on defense, forcing Lincoln Park into 9 turnovers and outscoring the Leopards 21-9 in the final frame. Lincoln Park was paced by Elijah Minnie's 24 points, 5 rebounds and 8 blocks, while teammate Maverick Rowan scored 16 points, with none coming in the 4th quarter. With 56 seconds to play, Clifford would hit a jumper from the left elbow, giving Clairton its first lead of the 2nd half, 69-68. Minnie would answer right back for Lincoln Park, giving the Leopards a 70-69 lead. But Boyd, who battled an apparent ankle injury the entire game, would take a pass down the left side of the lane and bank home a shot from close distance, giving Clairton the 71-70 lead with 26 seconds left. After a Lincoln Park turnover, Clifford would miss the front end of a one-and-one with 6 seconds left. Minnie would rebound the ball and launch a shot from just inside half court that hit the back of the rim as time expired. Clairton finished the game on a 12-3 run. The Bears head to the WPIAL Class A Championship, where they will meet No. 2 Vincentian at the A.J. Palumbo Center on Friday at 7:00pm. The Bears met the Royals in the 2011 Class A Semifinals, a game which Vincentian won 69-54. Clairton, which won the WPIAL Class A Football Championship this year, will try to become the first WPIAL school since Pittsburgh Central Catholic, Jeannette and Serra Catholic in 2007-2008 to win a football and boys basketball championship in the same school year. Lincoln Park falls to 19-6, but will move into the PIAA Playoffs as either the No. 3 or No. 4 seed from District 7. Notes: In attendance was Pittsburgh Steelers' Quarterback Charlie Batch, Pitt basketball assistant coach Brandin Knight, former Pitt basketball star Curtis Aiken and many student athletes from various WPIAL schools. Lincoln Park was 15/19 from the foul line, while Clairton was just 4/7. Lincoln Park had 19 total turnovers, while Clairton had 11. The game saw three technical fouls and a separation of players in the pregame warmups. In addition to Boyd, Howard and Webb are also Pitt football commits.
Vincentian Academy Royals 82 – North Catholic Trojans 69
This WPIAL Boys Class A Semi-Final matchup at North Hills High Scholl marked the third meeting on the season between the Royals and the Trojans and it also marked the third time on the year that Vincentian defeated North Catholic. Tied at 16-16 after the first quarter, Ryan Wolf scored 14-points in the second quarter to help Vincentian to a 15-point halftime lead. The Trojans would stage a comeback in the 4th quarter cutting the lead to single digits, but the Royals would pull away for the 13-point victory. Wolf, a sophomore guard, led the Royals with 29-points, including an 8-for-8 performance from the free throw line. Jim Kenna added 15 and Matt Rathz 11-points as Vincentian saw 9 players score points in the contest. Danny Savulchak was a man possessed for North Catholic finishing with a game-high 33-points. The senior now has 1,073 career points. Ryan Kirby knocked down 3-three pointers and scored 14-points for the Trojans while Pat Rielly added 12-points. North Catholic drops to (16-6) on the season but the Trojans have already clinched a spot in the PIAA Class A Playoffs. The Royals, who have won 74 of their last 82 games, improved to (24-1). The 2nd seeded Royals head to the Single-A title game for the first time since capturing their lone WPIAL title in 2011. Vincentian will face the tournaments #5 seed the Clairton Bears. Clairton upset top seeded Lincoln Park 71-70 to advance to the championship game. The WPIAL Class A Title Game is tentatively scheduled for Friday night at the A.J. Palumbo Center with the tipoff time set for 7:00pm.
WPIAL GIRLS CLASS AAAA Semifinals:
Chartiers Valley Colts 31 – Mount Lebanon Blue Devils 27
Despite being held to just three field goals after intermission, Chartiers Valley (19-6) avenged two regular season losses to Mt. Lebanon, beating the Blue Devils, 31-27. The Colts never trailed in the game, getting 11 first-quarter points from Mariah Wells, to lead by five after one. The Blue Devils pulled even with 5:14 to play in the half but left points at the foul line. With just seven points in the second, CV took a 20-17 lead to the locker-room, thanks to a last-second layup by Kristin McGeough. Neither team scored until Margie McCaffrey's field goal pulled Mt. Lebanon within one with 4:14 to play in the third. Christine Ehland's foul shot tied the game at 20-all almost two minutes later. Kristina Coyle sliced through traffic with 2:00 remaining in the quarter, putting CV up 22-20, a lead that would be constantly challenged but never taken away. With the score stuck at 23-21, the teams traded possessions through half of the final period. Alexa Golden made 1-of-2 at the line at 3:32, and Coyne picked up a second field goal two minutes later, giving Chartiers Valley a 26-21 lead. Twice over the final minute, Mt. Lebanon got within two, but no closer. Mariah Wells led the way for Chartiers Valley, scoring 17 points, 15 in the first half. The Colts were 7-14 from the foul line, including 4-6 in the fourth quarter. Ehland's 13 points led the Blue Devils (22-3) who failed to make the WPIAL Finals for the first time in five years. McCaffrey added 11 points. Mt. Lebanon was 0-for-12 from beyond the three-point line, and just 9-16 at the foul line.
Bethel Park Black Hawks 36 – Gateway Gators 28
The 3rd seeded Bethel Park Lady Black Hawks knew that defense would have to be the name of the game Tuesday night. Shutting Gateway’s post players down low would be key, and the Lady Black Hawks did just that, defeating the 7th seeded Lady Gators 36-28 to earn a trip to the WPIAL Class AAAA championship game. Gateway was slightly better out of the shoot, leading at the end of the 1st quarter 8-6. But from there, the Black Hawks limited Gateway’s opportunities down low, preventing Gateway guards Jada Epps and Chelsea Richardson from getting the ball into the post to Maria Taylor and Katey Wilson. Bethel Park would lead 18-14 at the half and would extend that lead to 26-20 after the 3rd quarter. Bethel Park led 32-20 at one point in the 4th quarter before Gateway stormed back on an 8-0 run to cut the deficit to four points at 32-28, but that was all the scoring Gateway would get Tuesday evening. Bethel Park ate clock and made their free throws down the stretch, clinching a berth in Saturday’s championship game. The Black Hawks star, Megan Marecic, struggled from the field, making only two field goals and ending up with six points. But the Black Hawks as a whole did a nice job of making their mid-range jump shots and getting transition points when it counted. Harper Zimmer and Samantha Simpson each led the way for Bethel Park with 11 points, also leading all scorers. Epps led Gateway with eight points. Neither team made a three-point shot in the basketball game. Credit the Bethel Park defense for holding Taylor, who had a double-double against North Allegheny Saturday, to only three points. An impressive WPIAL playoff run by the Gateway Lady Gators ends in the semifinals, although Gateway will be around for the PIAA playoffs next Friday. For Bethel Park, a team that lost in the quarterfinals a year ago, a chance to play for a WPIAL title comes this Saturday against section rival Chartiers Valley.
WPIAL GIRLS CLASS AA Semifinals:
Seton-LaSalle Rebels 73 – Jeannette Jayhawks 38
The #1 Seton La Salle Lady Rebels used offense and defense and cruised from start to finish over the #5 seed Jeannette Lady Jayhawks 73-38 Tuesday night at North Hills Junior High School. The Rebels pressure defense gave Jeannette fits the entire game forcing alot of turnovers and not allowing the Jayhawks to get into any sort of rhythm. Seton La Salle led 20-9 after the first quarter and were paced by 14 points from Natalie Piaggessi. The Rebels continued pouring it on in the second quarter outscoring Jeannette 22-7 taking a 42-16 lead into the half. The second half was more of the same as Seton La Salle continued with a dominate offense and pressure defense outscoring Jeannette 23-13 in the third extending the lead to 65-29 after three. The running clock took effect in the fourth and Seton La Salle emptied their bench and would be outscored 9-8 but would win going away 73-38. The two time defending WPIAL champs and defending PIAA champs had nine players contribute in the game and were led by Natalie Piaggessi with 17. Nicotlete Newman had 14 and Naje Gibson added 10. Jeannette star and UNC Charlotte recruit Ciara Gregory led the way with 27 of the team's 38 points, while four other players contributed a total of 11 points. Seton La Salle has now won 17 games in arow and improves to 24-1 and will play #2 seed Bishop Canevin Friday at the A.J. Palumbo Center for the WPIAL Class AA championship. Jeannette falls to 17-7.
Bishop Canevin Crusaders 55 – Burrell Buccaneers 19
All Bishop Canevin all the time was the theme Tuesday night. Bishop Canevin started fast and did not let Burrell breathe defeating the Bucs 55-19 to advance to the championship game on Friday night against defending champion Seton-Lasalle. Bishop Canevin built an early 24-2 lead forcing 18 Burrell turnovers in the first half. Burrell had no answer for the Crusader pressure. Meanwhile Carly Forse and Erin Waskowiak worked inside out to perfection. Forse finished with 23 points and Waskowiak 22 including 4 from beyond the arc for Bishiop Canevin. Burrell still qualifies for the state playoffs which begins March 8th. They will be either the 3rd or 4th place team from District 7.
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