WPIAL Basketball Playoffs – Wednesday 2/26 Recaps

Wednesday, February 26, 2014 | 11:54 PM

Things got off to an interesting start in several of the early games, but by the time the final horn sounded in the late games, all was well as the higher seeds won most of the contests on Wednesday setting up some outstanding matchups for Championship Weekend. Here are the summaries for the eight Boys AAAA, Boys AA, Girls AAA and Girls A games on Semifinals Wednesday around the WPIAL.

A special thanks to Steve Nagler, Bob Gregg, Don Rebel, Randy Gore, Bob Barrickman and Mark Schaas for their help on these recaps.


New Castle Red Hurricane 77 – Kiski Area Cavaliers 23 
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Hampton Talbots 61 – North Allegheny Tigers 53 
In the WPIAL semifinals on Wednesday night, the Hampton Talbots topped the North Allegheny Tigers by a final of 61-53 from Chartiers Valley High School. It’s the second straight year the Talbots have defeated the Tigers in the semifinals, which pits Hampton against New Castle in a WPIAL final for the third year in a row.  In 2012, the Talbots and Red Hurricanes met in the Class AAA title tilt. Against the Tigers, Hampton used an 8-0 run in the first quarter to grab a 10-3 lead.  Senior Ryan Luther provided six of the points on the run and helped the Talbots maintain a solid lead throughout the remainder of the half with 18 points.  Leading by five in the waning seconds of the half, Ryan’s twin Collin Luther connected on a bucket-and-one opportunity to give the Talbots a 30-22 lead at intermission.  Of Hampton’s 30 points, the Luther brothers had accounted for 24 of them. In the second half, the Tigers mounted a charge against their Section 3 rival.  Trailing 40-31, North Allegheny rolled off a 15-2 run and grabbed a 46-42 lead with 5:50 left in the game.  A streak of Tigers led the second half surge, including Cole Constantino who tied the game at 42-42 with a three-pointer near the end of the third. David Haus and Mike Carter scored four points each during the run, and senior Elijah Zeise provided six points, along with outstanding defense and rebounding as he was matched with Ryan Luther much of the night. In the second half, the Luther brothers combined for just 14 points. However, those 14 points by the Luthers proved pivotal as the majority came on free-throws down the stretch. For the game, Ryan and Collin Luther were 15 of 18 from the charity stripe.  Collectively, the Talbots were 19 of 23.  The Tigers were 6 of 10 from the free-throw line, but three of those misses came on critical shots late in the game. After the Tigers had taken a 46-42 lead, Hampton answered with a 12-2 run and put the game away at the free-throw line for a 61-53 win.  Ryan Luther finished with 25 points for the Talbots, David Huber netted 15 and Collin Luther scored 13.  For North Allegheny, Haus scored a team-high 14 points and Mike Carter added 12. North Allegheny falls to 21-4 on the season and will continue on in the PIAA Tournament next week.  Hampton improves to 22-3 and will face New Castle in the WPIAL Championship on Saturday at the A.J. Palumbo Center.

WPIAL CLASS AA Semifinals:

Seton-LaSalle Rebels 61 – Beaver Falls Tigers 45 
Even though Beaver Falls is coming off back-to-back years of golden bling, it was the Seton-LaSalle senior experience that allowed them to storm out of the gates en route to a 16 point victory Wednesday night at West Allegheny High School. The Rebels controlled the boards and scored on second and third chances in jumping out to a 29-18 lead over the Tigers. Seton-LaSalle expanded the lead to 43-29 after three quarter and did a great job answering Beaver Falls and time the champs tried to put together a run. Malik White, who missed the Rebels Quarterfinals victory over Summit Academy, came back with a big splash, scoring a game high 22 points as top-seed Seton-LaSalle improves to 24-1 and will battle Greensburg Central Catholic in the Class AA Championship game Saturday afternoon in search of their first district boys crown in 25 years. Meanwhile the two year run at the top ends for Beaver Falls as they fall 18-7 and now prepare for a run in the PIAA state playoffs. The Tigers were led by senior Dan Stratton’s 16 points while junior Javor Turner chipped in 15. 

Greensburg Central Catholic Centurions 61 – Aliquippa Quips 53 
Greensburg Central Catholic withheld a furious Aliquippa comeback in the third quarter and won the boys AA semifinal Wednesday night at Baldwin High School, 60-51.  The Centurions enjoyed a 30-19 lead midway in the third period before the Quips went on a 13-3 run to trail, 33-32 going into the fourth quarter.  But, Greensburg CC regained its composure and outscored Aliquippa in the final stanza, 27-19.  The Quips had an 8-3 lead late in the first quarter, but once the Centuriions took the lead in the second, they never relinquished it.  GCC outscored the Quips 19-9 in the second period to take a 24-17 lead at the half.  Neither team fared well from the free throw line as the Centurions were only 20 of37 while Aliquippa was merely 13 for 23 at the charity stripe.  Senior guard Brian Graytok had 20 points to pace GCC and fellow senior guard Billy Hipp added 14.  Sophomore guard Jassir Jordan had 22 points and was the lone Quip to reach double figures.  The win extended Greensburg Central Catholic’s winning streak to nine while the loss ended Aliquippa’s 11-game win streak.  The number two seeded Centurions improved to 22-2 and will meet the number one seed in Seton-LaSalle on Saturday in the WPIAL championship at Duquesne University’s A.J. Palumbo Center.  Aliquippa fell to 18-6 but will join GCC in the PIAA playoffs beginning March 8.


Blackhawk Cougars 59 – West Mifflin Titans 47 
Blackhawk coach Steve Lodovico knew West Mifflin was good. “We knew they weren’t a #12 seed,” he said afterward, “We knew they were one of the top teams when this process began.” Scott Stephenson’s Titans came out of the gates flying as if they were THEE top team as they jumped out to a 19-10 lead over the top-seed Cougars Wednesday night at West Allegheny High School…the same West A floor that saw #1-seed Blackhawk lose a year ago in the Semifinals to Elizabeth Forward. The Titans led by ten, 31-21 late in the second quarter when the tide turned as the Cougars scored the final six points of the quarter, including a buzzer beater by standout junior Chassidy Omogrosso to make the score 31-27 West Mifflin at the half. Blackhawk exploded out of the locker room, took the lead and never looked back as they outscored the Titans 32-16 in the second half to cruise to the 12 point victory. Omogrosso, held somewhat in check in the first half, led the big surge for Blackhawk with a game high 31 points while junior Courtney Vannoy added 17. The great district playoff run for West Mifflin ends with a record of 18-6 as the prepare for the PIAA playoffs starting next weekend. The Titans were led by the senior inside duo of Taylor Thomas with 18 points and Deilona DeVaughn with 10 points. Blackhawk is now 22-2 and will try to win their second WPIAL crown in four year on Saturday afternoon at the A.J. Palumbo Center when they battle the defending champion South Park Eagles.   

South Park Eagles 44 – Elizabeth Forward Warriors 40 
The more things change, the more things stay the same.  In a rematch of last year’s Class AAA Girls Championship at Palumbo Center on the campus of Duquesne University, things stayed the same between these two rivals as South Park defeated Elizabeth Forward at Chartiers Valley High School.  It was the sixth straight time in the last few years that the Eagles have defeated EF.  While the Warriors box-and-one defense held Eagles’ standout sophomore Allison McGrath scoreless through the first three quarters, South Park got scoring from other players including Lindsay Noss who had a game-high 14 points on the night.  Halie Torris scored 10 points and Amanda Quinn added 9 points, scoring on the first three 3-pointers that she took in the first half of play.  It wasn’t a great start for South Park as they struggled mightily shooting the basketball in the first quarter and trailed 9-8 after the first 8 minutes of play.  But, the Eagles got cranked up in the second quarter, scoring 13 points thanks to six points from Noss and took a 3-point lead, 21-18, heading into the half.  South Park would outscore the Warriors 12-5 in the pivotal 3rd quarter of play, allowing them to extend their lead to 10 points heading into the final stanza.  McGrath helped to salt away the win by scoring 6 points, all from the foul line, in the final quarter of play.  EF was paced by senior Alison Pastore, who scored 8 points in the final quarter to keep the Warriors close.  Pastore ended the game with 13 points for EF.  Olivia Barkley also tallied 10 points in the loss.  South Park will look to capture their 3rd WPIAL title since 2008 on Saturday when they take on the top-seeded Blackhawk Cougars.

WPIAL CLASS A Semifinals:

Vincentian Academy Royals 65 – Quigley Catholic Spartans 41
The Royals took one more step towards three-peating as WPIAL Class A champions with the victory at North Allegheny High School. Vincentian Academy used a dominant third quarter to pull away for the win. Brenna Wise scored 25 points, 15 of those in the second half to lead all scorers. Wise took over the game during a 13-0 run in the third quarter, controlling the glass both on offense and defense. The Royals put up 21 points in the third. Vincentian Academy led 14-8 after one period. Kaitlyn Smith brought the Spartans back in the second, scoring 6 of her eight points during the quarter. A pair of Smith free throws tied the game at 22, the first half saw 8 lead changes. The Royals came out in the third and turned up the heat defensively, forcing several turnovers and missed shots. A three by Maia Joiner started the run, she finished with 9 points on the night. After the run, Vincentian Academy led 47-32 going into the fourth. Any hope Quigley had was quickly erased as the Royals racked up 14 straight points to take a commanding lead. Ally Bartoszewicz added 9 points, Vincentian Academy got 8 points and a number of loose balls and steals from Kayla Key. The Royals were 13 of 21 from the line and committed only 13 turnovers. The Royals will look to claim the 7th WPIAL girls basketball crown when they meet Serra Catholic on Saturday in the title tilt on MSA Sports. Vincentian Academy is now 21-3 overall. Gabrielle Smith led Quigley Catholic with 10 points, Liz Duer had 9, Kaitlyn Smith had 8 and Brittney Jackson 7. Kaitlyn Smith and Jackson were both shut out in the second half. Quigley was 14-19 from the foul line and committed 17 turnovers. The Spartans fall to 18-6 overall, both teams will be in the PIAA tournament, starting a week from Saturday.

Serra Catholic Eagles 60 – California Trojans 40 
Serra Catholic used a 13-0 run early in the fourth quarter to put away California, rolling from a 2-point lead to a 60-40 win Wednesday night in the WPIAL Class A girls semifinals.  The #2 Eagles will take on top-seeded Vincentian Academy in Saturday morning’s finals at the Palumbo Center.  The two met December 7th in the finals of the Serra Tip-Off Tournament, the Royals taking a 70-60 win. California (19-4) got seven points in the opening quarter from freshman Kylie Huffman, part of a 15-6 margin for the Trojans.  Brooke Clements and Tristen Conaway hit three-pointers in the period for California.  It would be nearly 11 minutes of game action before the Trojans got another field goal.  Despite the drought, Serra’s lead was only 21-19 with five minutes left in the third.  Megan Sieg rolled up 8 points in the third, helping the Eagles to a 7-point lead late in the period.  Huffman’s 3-point play in the last 15 seconds plus a quick deuce by Katharina Pankratz early in the fourth brought California to within two points. The Eagles then found the range from beyond the arc, with Sieg (1) and Danielle Dindak (2) draining long-range shots on three consecutive trips up the floor.  By that time, Serra (23-2) had a berth in the finals secured.  Sieg finished with 16 points, sister Katie added a dozen, with Lauren Czerwein and Nicole Pero each adding 10.  Pero also blocked eight shots in the game.  Huffman finished with 14 for the Trojans who will advance to the PIAA playoffs, Saturday, March 8th at the champion of either District 5 or 10.  Serra Catholic, after Saturday’s final, will take on either the District 9 third-place finisher, or the District 10 runnerup.

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