WPIAL Basketball Playoff Summaries for Saturday 2/25

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Saturday, February 25, 2017 | 9:30 PM


One ‘Super Section’ enjoyed a fabulous Saturday afternoon while another got swept into the abyss of not knowing if their season is over or if a berth in the state playoffs is in their future. While there were no surprises again on the girls side and the top four seeds advanced in Boys 4-A (All from Section 2), Boys Class 6-A was shaken big time when Section 2 Tri-Champs Latrobe, Fox Chapel and Penn Hills…seeds 2, 3 and 4, all lost. Here are the recaps from the Boys 6-A, Boys 4-A, Girls 5-A and Girls 3-A Quarterfinals on Saturday to Conclude Round Two.

A special thanks to Rob McKinney, Sean Meyers, Donny Chedrick, Sean Saputo, Rennie Detore, Andy Stanko, Mike Azadian, Steve Nagler, Bob Gregg, Dennis Fischer, Mark Schaas, Bob Barrickman and T.J. DiStefano for their help on these recaps.

BOYS WPIAL CLASS 6-A Quarterfinals:

Pine-Richland Rams 87 – Canon-McMillan Big Macs 74 
Top-seeded Pine-Richland held a tenuous six-point lead with just under two minutes remaining.  Then, the Rams did what they do, turnover and fast break, seemingly at will, and hit foul shots to close it out, beating Canon-McMillan, 87-74.  The Big Macs led, 24-23, after one quarter, a frenetic opening period that saw the two trade the lead four times.  The ran off seven straight points, and did so quickly, forcing CM head coach Rick Bell to use a second timeout with four minutes to play in the half.  The Big Macs responded, pulling even on Britton Beachy’s three-pointer, only to watch Pine-Richland close the half on a 10-2 run, capped by Andrew Petcash’s three-pointer at the buzzer.  Pine-Richland (22-1) used another spurt in the early third to lead by 11, then 13 with 5:38 to play in the game.  Kenyan Lewis drained a trey, igniting a 9-0 run for Canon-McMillan (18-6), pulling the Big Macs to within 69-65, but that’s as close as the Rams would let the #8 seed get.  Phil Jurkovec, Andrew Kristofic and Petcash combined for 17 points in the quarter, leading the Rams into the WPIAL semifinals and a third meeting this year with North Hills.  The Rams’ two Section 1 victories totaled 3 points (65-63 & 72-71).  Jurkovec led Pine-Richland with 23, Petcash had 22 and Kristofic 14.  Beachy’s 22 led Canon-McMillan, now rooting for Pine-Richland to make the WPIAL finals, drawing the Big Macs into the state tournament.  Carson Miller scored 21 for CM and RJ Bell added 13.

North Hills Indians 59 – Penn Hills Indians 58 
Nick Smith sank a pair of free throws to give North Hills the lead in the final minute, and Penn Hills could not capitalize on two late opportunities to tie or win the game, as North Hills held on 59-58 in the Class 6A quarterfinals at Plum High School. Following Smith’s foul shots that staked the Indians to a two-point edge, Penn Hills’ junior Daivon Stephens was fouled. Stephens hit the first attempt, but left the second one short. After Smith missed the front-end of the bonus at the opposite end, Penn Hills called Chavar Williamson’s number for a final shot. Williamson had to retreat to near midcourt to retrieve an errant pass, though, and although he was seemingly bumped, his final heave was offline. No. 4 Penn Hills led early, but a late basket at the close of the opening quarter gave North Hills its first lead. Fifth-seeded North Hills maintained and added to that advantage in the second quarter, taking a 43-36 edge into the locker room, courtesy of a buzzer-beater from approximately 40 feet by Kam Taylor. Penn Hills clamped down defensively in the third stanza, however, holding North Hills to just five points. The teams exchanged the lead multiple times in the fourth, before Smith broke the deadlock. He paced his squad with 17, while Taylor contributed 14. In the defeat, Stephens led Penn Hills with 17, while Chavar Williamson added 15. North Hills advances to the semifinals, to be played on March 1.

Butler Golden Tornado 70 – Latrobe Wildcats 64 
The #7 seed Butler Golden Tornado pulled the upset Saturday afternoon over the # 2 seed Greater Latrobe Wildcats 70-64 at Penn Hills High School. Both teams started out slow in the 1st quarter as they tried to get into their rhythms and get the feel of the game. Butler held a one point lead 17-16 after one frame. Both teams picked it up in the second quarter going back and forth and the score was tied at the half 36-36. Tyler Fredrick led the way for the Golden Tornado in the 3rd quarter scoring 10 points and helping Butler take a 52-50 lead into the 4th quarter. Butler started out the 4th quarter outscoring Latrobe 8-2 and the Wildcats battled but in the end just didn’t make enough plays for to get the win. Latrobe, who had a bye and hadn’t played in almost two weeks, wasn’t the team we saw coming down the stretch in the regular season. Too many missed shots, Austin Butler only scoring two points the entire second half, Jake Biss scoring  four points in the first quarter and being held scoreless the rest of the game and Reed Fenton, the most consistent shooter and best foul shooter on the team missing two foul shots in the 4th. Butler played well and deserved the win. The Golden Tornado had four players in double figures led by Tyler Fredrick with 22 points. Ethan Morton added 11 and Joel Stutz and Connor Ollio each chipped in 10. The Wildcats had three players in double figures led by Austin Butler and Jason Armstrong with 14 each and Reed Fenton added 12. Butler improves to 16-8 and will face #11 seed Woodland Hills Wednesday night at a site and time to be determined. Latrobe drops to 19-4 and needs a Butler win on Wednesday to qualify for the state playoffs.

Woodland Hills Wolverines 52 – Fox Chapel Foxes 47
Section foes Fox Chapel and Woodland Hills met twice in the regular season, with the Foxes claiming victories in both contests. In the Class 6A quarterfinals at Plum High School, however, the Wolverines gained their revenge, upsetting third-seeded Fox Chapel 52-47. No. 11 Woodland Hills continued its surprising postseason run by playing suffocating defense, and getting timely offense from Tyrese Robinson, Kenny Lee and Deontae Robertson. The teams exchanged baskets in the first quarter, but Fox Chapel carried a narrow lead, 13-11, into the second quarter. Perhaps showing signs of rust following a first-round bye and a long layoff, the Foxes could not gain separation in the second frame, and a late field goal put the Wolverines up 25-22 at the intermission. From that point on, Woodland Hills never trailed, as they limited the Foxes to just nine points in each the second and third quarters, while Robinson scored eight himself in the third stanza, as Woodland Hills used an 13-2 run to gain command. Meanwhile, Lee netted five points in the final frame, as the Wolverines held off a late surge from Fox Chapel, which trimmed its 11-point deficit down to just four in the final minute. Robinson notched a game-high 17 points, while Lee added 10. In the defeat, the Foxes had four players reach double figures, with Carson Cohen and Ben Kelly each tallying 12. With the triumph, the Wolverines will face Butler Area in the semifinals on March 1.

BOYS WPIAL CLASS 4-A Quarterfinals:

New Castle Red Hurricane 73 – McGuffey Highlanders 40 
The top seeded Red Hurricanes were strongly tested in the 1st half before pulling away in the 3rd for the victory. New Castle jumped out to an 11-0 lead and forced Highlanders coach Mike Fatigante to use a time out. Whatever was said during the 30 seconds worked as McGuffey scored the next 7. New Castle extended their lead as junior Marcus Hooker finished the quarter with 10 of his career high 26 points and a 19-11 lead. The Highlanders got a spark from junior Trent Belleville as he used both a mid range jumper and some drives to pick up 11 points in the 2nd. New Castle’s Geno Stone broke a 22-22 tie with a three-pointer, his 70th of the season, and the Canes hung to a 27-25 advantage at the half. It was Ralph Blundo’s turn to fire up his team as New Castle went on a 10-0 run to open the 3rd. Colin Chapman scored for McGuffey to break the ice in the 2nd half but it was all New Castle the rest of the way. When it was all said and done, the Red Hurricanes posted a 19-1 stretch and forced Fatigante to calltwo more timeouts to try and stop the bleeding as the Canes led 56-28 after 3. Hooker has posted his two best career scoring games at Ambridge, his previous high was 24 from a section game last year. Stone had 18 points, all from behind the arc. Senior Gino DeMonico added 16. New Castle made 11 trifectas, giving them 185 on the year. New Castle committed 14 turnovers and shot 6 of 12 from the line. Belleville led the Highlanders with 19 points, Chapman added 13. McGuffey had 3 three-pointers and finished 7 of 12 from the line. After only having 7 turnovers in the 1st half, the Highlanders committed 17 in the 2nd. New Castle is now 21-2 overall and has qualified for the semifinals and the PIAA playoffs all 7 seasons under Blundo. The Red Hurricanes have won 7 straight games and face section rival Central Valley on Wednesday. The Canes won both meetings this year 63-49 at CV and 63-39 at New Castle. The Red Hurricanes have won 10 straight meetings with the Warriors, including a win in the 2011 WPIAL quarterfinals. McGuffey is now 18-6 and can advance to the state tournament with a New Castle win.

Central Valley Warriors 56 – Belle Vernon Leopards 35 
Central Valley opened the game on a 10-0 run, getting eight of the points from Parker Hudson and never looked back as the Warriors topped the Belle Vernon Leopards 56-35 in WPIAL Boys 4A Quarterfinal action. The Warriors in its first playoff game, after a 12-day layoff, didn’t skip a beat as it led the Leopards 18-5 after the first quarter. The second quarter was much of the same as the Warriors outscored the Leopards 12-7 that quarter to take a 30-12 lead into the locker room. The Leopards, however, entered the second half motivated and cut down what was at one point a 19-point Warrior lead down to nine. Leopard center Joe Sabolek was the spark in the third quarter, putting up 12 points. After three quarters, the Leopards cut the deficit to 10, trailing 42-32. The fourth quarter was all Warriors. After regrouping from allowing the large lead to slip, the Warriors held Belle Vernon without a field goal in the fourth quarter and limited the Leopards to just three points, all from the free-throw line. The Warriors added exclamation points to the contest in the fourth with two one-handed slams by Michael Simmons and Joshua Kline. Central Valley was led in scoring by both Simmons and Kline, netting 13 points apiece. Kline nearly had a triple-double as he led the team with nine rebounds and eight blocks. Belle Vernon’s leading scorer was Joe Sabolek, who scored nearly half the Leopards points with 14. Central Valley moves on to the semi-finals to face New Castle on Wednesday. Belle Vernon must wait, as its season rests in the hands of Central Valley. A Warrior victory over New Castle clinches the Leopards a spot in the PIAA 4A playoffs as either the fifth or sixth seed from the district.

Quaker Valley Quakers 56 – South Fayette Lions 44 
The Quaker Valley Quakers were able to survive three quarters of sub-par, rusty play to advance past the South Fayette Lions in the quarterfinal round of the Class 4-A Boys Basketball Championships at Canon McMillan High School.  The Quakers had three players in double-digits to pace their victory.  Sophomore Danny Conlan led the way with 17 points while Coletrain Washington had 14 points and Rick Guss had 11 points.  Quaker Valley had a 22-17 halftime lead but a strong Lion 3rd quarter gave South Fayette a 3-point lead heading into the 4th quarter.  However, that’s when the Quakers woke up.  Quaker Valley went on a 9-0 run to start the quarter and extended their run to 17-1 to help them win, going away.  South Fayette had two players finish with double figures in scoring – Noah Plack (13) and Luke Meindl (10) paced the offensive attack for the Lions.  With the win, Quaker Valley (21-2) will face a very familiar section foe in Beaver Falls in the semifinals which will happen on Wednesday, March 1st at Ambridge High School, time to be determined.

Beaver Falls Tigers 79 – Indiana Little Indians 58 
After leading by only three points at the half, Beaver Falls outscored Indiana 26-10 in the third quarter and won the boys 4-A Quarterfinal on Saturday going away, 79-58.  Senior Josh Creach led the way for the Tigers in that decisive period by scoring 11 of his game high 27 points.  Sophomore Gage McKelvey pitched in with 17 tallies and freshman Jevontae Jones added 12 for Beaver Falls in the game held at North Hills HS.  Senior Jake Benhart matched his average with 18 points to pace the Little Indians.  The defending WPIAL champion Tigers move to 12-8 and have qualified for the upcoming PIAA playoffs.  Beaver Falls will meet section 2 rival Quaker Valley on Wednesday in the WPIAL Semis.  The two teams split their two regular season meetings.  Section 1 champion Indiana dips to 16-8 and must have Beaver Falls win on Wednesday in order to qualify for the state playoffs.

GIRLS WPIAL CLASS 5-A Quarterfinals:

Hampton Talbots 61 – McKeesport Tigers 43 
The #1 seed Hampton Talbots advanced for the second straight year to the semifinals, this time in 5A, with a 61-43 victory over the #8 seed McKeesport Tigers on Saturday afternoon at Plum High School.  Hampton led 15-11 after one period, then held McKeesport to just seven, second quarter points to take a commanding 37-18 advantage into the half.  The Tigers were able to get within 14 in the third period, but the Talbots rallied to lead 48-30 with eight minutes to play.  Hampton was led by senior Jenna Lafko with 24 points, including six, three point field goals, junior Alison Collins with 13, and senior Natalie Dean with 10.  McKeesport’s Johnasia Cash led all scores with 25.  Hampton (22-2) will meet Oakland Catholic in the semifinals next Wednesday at a site and time to be determined.  McKeesport (10-13) can qualify for the PIAA tournament if Hampton wins the WPIAL title next Saturday afternoon.

Oakland Catholic Eagles 54 – Mars Fightin’ Planets 41 
It is on to the 5-A WPIAL Semifinals for the Eagles of Oakland Catholic after a 54-41 victory against the Mars Fightin’ Planets on Saturday. The Eagles were paced by hot three-point shooting in the first half and terrific post play in the second half. Sophomore forward Sierra DeAngelo led Oakland Catholic with 17 points, 13 of which came after halftime. Alexis Sestric had 14 points, including four three point field goals. Senior Gabby Gevaudan added 12 for the Eagles as well. It was a big day for Tai Johnson for Mars, who had 17 to lead the team. Lauren Wasylson and Nicole McCloud both had 10 for the Planets. Oakland Catholic moves on to play the winner of Hampton and McKeesport.

Trinity Hillers 58 – Gateway Gators 54 in Overtime
Sierra Kotchman’s fifth three-pointer tied the game with less than two minutes to play and Trinity hit 10-of-12 free throws in overtime to beat Gateway, 58-54.  Neither team could get much breathing room with eight ties and seven lead changes in the first half.  Jordan Edwards hit two field goals, helping the Gators to a 44-38 lead halfway through the fourth, their biggest lead of the game.  Trinity pulled to within a point over the next 60 seconds, getting field goals from Rachel Lemons and Abbey O’Connor, plus a Kotchman free throw.  A technical foul on the Hillers for reaching/stepping out of bounds defending a throw-in gave Gateway (17-7) a chance to extend the margin.  Edwards hit both foul shots but the Gators didn’t score again in regulation.  A minute later, on a quick set, Kotchman caught the pass in the left corner and buried the trey to tie the game.  Both teams had late chances but could not score.  In the extra period, Kotchman hit a pair of free throws in the first 40 seconds giving Trinity (22-2) the lead for the first time since midway through the third, a lead they never gave up.  Riley DeRubbo’s bucket in the lane put the Hillers up 50-46 with 2:30 to play.  Mary Kromka cut it to two but Trinity hit 4-of-6 at the stripe over the next 90 seconds, then closed with four consecutive makes to seal the win.  Kotchman led all scorers with 23 points.  DeRubbo and O’Connor added 10 apiece for the Hillers.  Edwards finished the game with 20, 11 of them in the fourth quarter and overtime.  Amoni Carter scored 13 points off the bench, 11 in the first half.  Cierra Christian added 11 for the Gators, who now root for Trinity to win the WPIAL championship, pulling Gateway into the state playoffs. 

Chartiers Valley Colts 48 – South Fayette Lions 31
The Chartiers Valley Colts routed the defending WPIAL Champion South Fayette Lions in the Class 5-A Girls Basketball Quarterfinal round on Saturday afternoon at Canon-McMillan High School.  The Colts jumped out to an 11-4 lead after one quarter and ended up outscoring the Lions in all four quarters and won by a shocking margin, considering these two teams split their regular season meetings.  Chartier’s Valley’s sophomore Gabi Legister led all scorers with 21 points.  Legister was dominant in the low post, showing good moves with her back to the basket.  Colts’ Lauren Wagner added 8 points and Abbey Collins chipped in with 7 points.  The Lions were paced in the scoring column by senior Carlee Kilgus who scored 9 points while Jordyn Caputo added 8 points.  South Fayette (17-6) now awaits their fate in the PIAA State Playoffs while Chartiers Valley (17-7) advances to play Trinity in the semifinal round which will take place on Wednesday, March 1st.

GIRLS WPIAL CLASS 3-A Quarterfinals:

Bishop Canevin Crusaders 54 – Riverside Panthers 25 
On Saturday, the Bishop Canevin Crusaders advanced to the WPIAL Girls 3A Semifinals for the seventh year in a row with a 54-25 victory over Riverside. Bishop Canevin had contributions from six different players and two players scored in double-digits. Senior Guard Sarah Green dropped 13 points, as did Junior Forward Brionna Allen. Crusader Gaurd’s Gillian Gustine and Lauren Gamble notched 9 points a piece, with all of those points coming from beyond the arch. Riverside’s leading scorer was Freshman Guard Marley Wolf, who scored 9 points. Bishop Canevin will play the winner of Mohawk vs. Carlynton in the WPIAL Girls Class 3A Semifinals.

Carlynton Cougars 50 – Mohawk Warriors 44 
At Ambridge High School in WPIAL Girls 3A quarterfinal action, the Carlynton Cougars came back with a furious second half rally to beat the Mohawk Warriors 50-44. They earn a trip to the semifinals against section rival Bishop Canevin, the top seed, on Wednesday, March 1st. They also have now guaranteed a spot in the PIAA playoff tourney. It was a game of two different halves for each club. In the first half, Mohawk did everything right. They shot well, rebounded well, and took advantage of Cougar foul trouble and turnovers. They led 31-16, outplaying Carlynton to take a 15 point lead at the half. Mohawk at one point didn’t commit a foul until the Cougars had committed eight. Carlynton had a player take a technical for swearing on the court. The Cougars were stymied by Mohawks zone defense and couldn’t get anything to work on offense. The second half was a complete turn around for both teams. All of a sudden Mohawk couldn’t shoot, or rebound. They turned the ball over due to tough Cougar full court press defense. The Warriors also got into foul trouble as their point guard Abbey Westcott had four fouls in the first 1:30 of the second half. One was a technical for slamming the ball in front of the ref. Carlynton did everything right, they changed their offense, and started rebounding and it led to a 13-0 run to start the quarter. They ended with an 18-4 quarter and trailed 35-33 going into the 4th. They owned the 4th as well out scoring Mohawk 17-9 and earning the win. Carlynton had 13 second half points and falls to 16-7. They have a chance to get to the PIAA state playoffs if Carlynton makes it to the WPIAL final. They were led in scoring by Caitlyn Carnuche with 12, Carlee Stelter with 12, and Megan Meyer with 10. The Cougars improve to 17-6 and were led by Diamond Thomas with 17, and Ashleigh Wilson with 14 points. They were 13 of 18 from the foul line, 72 percent. Mohawk shot 14 of 22 from the charity stripe only 63 percent. That was the difference in the game.

East Allegheny Wildcats 68 – Avonworth Antelopes 59 
Despite a slow start from their leading scorer and foul trouble that reared its ugly head in the middle of the second quarter and much of the second half, undefeated East Allegheny toppled Avonworth 68-59 in a WPIAL Section 3A girls quarterfinals game at Penn Hills High School. Amani Johnson, the standout junior guard for the Wildcats, amassed only seven points by the half as East Allegheny led by just three, 27-24, halfway through this game. At times, Johnson seemed frustrated as she drew double and triple team coverage as Avonworth (8-6), which held teams to an average of 44 points per game, seemed poised to pull off the upset of the second seeded Wildcats. But the seventh seeded Antelopes, who showed great resiliency in coming back from one deficit after another, couldn’t keep Johnson and the rest of East Allegheny in check in the second half. East Allegheny (23-0) outscored Avonworth 41-20 in the second half, and Johnson finished with 36 points, above her WPIAL leading scoring average of 30.9, thanks to 18 of those points coming off free throws as Avonworth saw its hopes of advancing in the WPIAL slip away and was forced to foul late in the game. Johnson also eclipsed the 1,500 point mark for the season. Fouls also plagued East Allegheny, which saw two starters, C’Keiyah Marshall and Amaia Johnson (the sister of Amani) foul out. This left an already thin Wildcats bench even worse for wear, but Avonworth was never able to capitalize on East Allegheny’s foul troubles. Avonworth had three players in double digits: sisters Hayden and Hunter Robinson scored 14 and 12 points, respectively, and Katie Gould also 14 points in the loss. Myla Bortoluzzi was the only other Wildcats player in double figures, checking in with 10. The win sets up a semifinals showdown between East Allegheny and Neshannock, which defeated Charleroi 65-36 in another quarterfinals game for its 22nd win of the season compared to just one loss for the Lancers.

Neshannock Lancers 65 – Charleroi Cougars 36 
The #3 Neshannock Lancers scored the first eight points in their quarterfinals matchup with #6 Charleroi and never looked back. Neshannock carried an eleven-point lead into the second quarter before pulling away for good with a 21-4 second frame. Junior Carmie Matarazzo tallied 17 points in the first half alone, and the Lancers led 41-13 after 16 minutes of play. Charleroi responded in the third quarter and outscored the Lancers 13-8 in the frame, thanks to 9 points in the quarter by Kaitlyn Riley. Neshannock’s top-ranked scoring defense held its opponent to under 40 points for the 20th time this season. Matarazzo finished with a game-high 19, Bella Burelli finished with 17, and Ally Zarilla scored 12 for the Lancers. Charleroi was led by Riley’s 12 and Maria Claybaugh’s 10 points. The Lancer’s top-rated defense meets #2 East Allegheny’s high-powered and top-ranked offense in the class 3-A semifinals next week.

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