There’s a fine line between playing to win and playing not to lose. Wilmington High boys’ basketball toed that line during Wednesday night’s Region 2-AA affair at Sharpsville.
“It wasn’t pretty, but anytime you can get a road victory — and in the league — we’ll take it. ... All we care about is the ‘W,’” summarized Hounds’ head coach Mike Jeckavitch following Wilmington’s 44-42 win.
At Red Johnston Gymnasium, Jordan Smith sank both ends of a 1-and-1 bonus free-throw opportunity with 4.7 ticks to play for the Wilmington win.
Following a timeout hailed by Sharpsville skipper Jim Smiley, a loose-ball scrum ensued before Wilmington was whistled for a personal foul with four-tenths of a second. A half-court desperation heave at the horn went awry.
Sharpsville surged from a 42-39 deficit with 34.5 seconds remaining as Kyle Kennedy’s kickout pass to Mitchell Fyffe resulted in the latter’s left-wing triple — his only basket of the game.
However Smith, who split 4 free-throw attempts earlier in the 4th frame, steeled himself from the sin stripe to secure a game-high 18 points, to go along with 8 rebounds and 4 assists.
“Jordan has ice in his veins, and I knew he’d come through in the clutch. He’s been trying to work on his foul-shooting — something he’s struggled with in the past; he wanted to get his percentage up — but (the game-winners) are a product of the hard work and the confidence he has in himself,” Jeckavitch praised, noting,
“My guys showed a lot of perseverence, a lot of trust in each other, to make enough foul shots at the end to win the game. I’m proud of the boys and proud of their effort.”
After an early deficit to the Blue Devils it was a wire-to-wire win for Wilmington (5-2, 10-7), which led 12-11 at the quarter, 29-21 by the break, and 33-30 through 3 periods.
However the ’Hounds had some shaky moments when Jeckavitch elected to stall beginning late in the 3rd quarter. After committing only a handful of 1st-half miscues, the Greyhounds were guilty of 9 second-half turnovers.
“They were in that three-two zone, so we decided to hold the ball a little bit at the end, make them come guard us,” Jeckavitch explained.
Sharpsville was short-handed during most of the 2nd half as frontliner Greg Popatak sprained his left ankle with 4:06 remaining in the 3rd quarter. He did not return to action and was walking only with the aid of crutches. During the 1st half Popatak produced 4 points, but 9 rebounds. Also, Kennedy was KO’d for most of the 1st half as he incurred a pair of personal fouls with 2:52 left in the 1st frame. He was a non-factor in the 1st half, but finished with 8 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists.
Sage Barringer was big for the Blue Devils again. The 6-foot-5 senior sharpshooter secured a team-high 16 points and shared game-high honors with Popatak with 9 boards. Barringer’s bomb from the left wing with 3:47 remaining — courtesy of Tanner Morris’ pass — knotted the count at 35.
Approximately 20 seconds later Kennedy converted off a Wilmington turnover as Sharpsville surged to a 37-35 edge with 3:22 left.
But the gritty Greyhounds got the lead as Smith set uf Travis Brumbaugh off a Sharpsville turnover. Then Smith sank a freebie with 1:13 left, giving the Greyhounds a 40-37 lead, before Kennedy connected with Morris for a layin, drawing the Blue Devils within 40-39 with 1:02 to play.
The teams traded turnovers during the ensuing 13-plus seconds before Fyffe found the mark, squaring the score at 42.
Rocco Fagan misfired with 13.8 seconds, but Smith scured the loose-ball rebound and Jeckavitch hailed a timeout. Following the ensuing inbounds Fagan was stripped on a drive into the lane, but the Blue Devils (3-5, 7-9) were whistled for a loose-ball foul, setting up Smith.
“We’re five-and-two in the (region) right now; not exactly where we want to be. We have sole possession of second place (behind defending champion West Middlesex),” Jeckavitch explained, emphasizing. “But we have to continue to win.
“We have a lot of home games coming up, which I definitely think will help our confidence out, get some fans behind us. But you know what? We’re just gonna take it one game at a time, and we have Lakeview coming up on Friday,” the 4th-year Hounds’ headmaster continued, concluding,
“I feel like every day we’re getting better, and as long as they give me one-hundred percent effort, that’s all I care about. If we can get in(to the playoffs), you never know what can happen.”
Notes: Sharpsville shot 18 for 47 from the floor (38.2 percent), but only 3 for 6 from the line and committed 19 miscues. Led by Barringer and Popatak the Blue Devils won the board battle, 39-33. ... Wilmington was 15 for 50 from the field (30 percent) and 12 for 17 from the charity stripe. Jesse Hilliard handed out 4 assists and Brumbaugh 3. — By Ed Farrell, Herald assistant sports editor.
ä West Middlesex 44, Lakeview 27 — At West Middlesex, Coach Chad Mild’s Big Reds improved to 7-0 in Region 2-AA and 11-5 overall with the win over the Sailors (1-6, 6-10).
WM led 14-4 after the opening 8 minutes, but the Sailors battled back and forged a 20-all tie at halftime. The Big Reds then outscored Lakeview 14-4 in the 3rd quarter and 10-3 in the 4th frame.
Trey Staunch recorded a 25-point, 10-rebound double-double to lead WM.
Brandon Rice scored 12 points to lead Lakeview.
ä Kennedy Catholic 85, Jamestown 14 — At Hermitage, the Muskies (0-5, 0-12) trailed 27-2 after the opening quarter and 50-3 at the break as KC (5-0, 9-6) rolled in the Region 1-A matchup.
Andre Campbell had 13 points for KC, Matt Perrico drained 3 treys en route to 12 points, Nolan Cianci bucketed 11 and Sam Crow added 10 markers.
Kyle Melton and Brandon Moss had 4 points each for Jamestown.
ä Hickory 101, VisionQuest 27 — At “The Hive” in Hermitage, the Hornets (12-3) flew out to a 34-8 lead after the opening 8 minutes and routed the Eagles of VisionQuest (4-10) in a non-region encounter.
Andrew Pryts and Anthony Cannone led the way for Hickory with 14 points each while Nate Mastrian scored a dozen and Nick Tantuo and Donté Green added 11 points each.
Jessie Robinson was the leading scorer for VQ with 13 points.
ä Oil City 74, Sharon 70 — At “The House of Hustle,” the visiting Tigers took it to the wire before bowing in the Region 3-AAA makeup tilt
’Bray Jennings’ traditional 3-point play drew Sharon within 72-70 with 14 ticks to play. However Andrew Williams’ pair of free throws 5 seconds later ensured the Oilers’ win.
Oil City led 35-15 with 3:02 left in 1st half before Sharon surged back.
Jason Austin annexed a team-high 20 points for Sharon (4-5, 7-8), while Jamal Waller also went for 20 and Jennings joined in with 13. However Sharon shot just 6 for 11 from the free-throw line.
Oil City (7-2, 12-2) was led by Devon Geib, who garnered a game-high 23 points, and Williams and Logan Way, who went for 19 and 18, respectively. The Oilers were an overwhelming 25 for 35 from the line (71.4 percent), led by Geib’s 10-for-12 marksmanship and Williams’ 7-for-9.
The teams will play again on Friday at Sharon, which has dropped 5 consecutive contests.
ä Franklin 40, Grove City 28 — At “The Eagle’s Nest” in Grove City, the Knights came away with the win over GC (2-6).
Bryce Martin (113) and Chet Simoni (152) posted falls for the Eagles while Luke Walter (132), Kenny Bable (160) won by decision and Jared Reppart (220) notched a major decision.
Hunter Cook (138), Dakota Geer (170), Hunter Exley (182), Nate Miller (195) and Mike McCool (285) posted pins for Franklin.
ä The Brookfield at Girard boys basketball game that was moved from Tuesday to Wednesday was ppd. again. It will be played at 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 19.
ä Tuesday’s George Junior Republic at Farrell game has been rescheduled for Feb. 5.
ä Wednesday’s Slippery Rock at Sharon and Mercer vs. Redbank Valley wrestling matches were ppd. No makeup dates were announced.
WILMINGTON 12 17 4 11 44
SHARPSVILLE 11 10 9 12 42
WILMINGTON — Bloise 1-0-0-2, Hilliard 1-2-2-4, Smith 6-6-9-18, Fagan 0-3-4-3, Brumbaugh 3-0-0-7, DeMedal 2-1-2-6, Danus 1-0-0-2, Naples 0-0-0-0, Peoples 1-0-0-2. 3-pt. goals: Brumbaugh 1, DeMedal 1. Totals: 15-12-17-44.
SHARPSVILLE — Kennedy 4-0-0-8, Popatak 2-0-0-4, Barringer 6-2-2-16, Morris 3-0-0-6, Hogue 1-1-2-3, Fyffe 1-0-0-3, Henwood 0-0-2-0, Smith 1-0-0-2, Lipo 0-0-0-0. 3-pt. goals: Barringer 2, Fyffe 1. Totals: 18-3-6-42.
JV — Wilmington, 47-45. Derrick Naples 26 points for Wilmington.
LAKEVIEW 4 16 4 3 27
MIDDLESEX 14 6 14 10 44
LAKEVIEW — Partridge 0-0-0-0, VanDusen 2-0-0-5, Richael 0-0-0-0, A. Rice 3-0-0-8, Doddo 1-0-0-2, B. Rice 4-4-4-12, Armstrong 0-0-0-0. 3-pt. goals: A. Rice 2, VanDusen 1. Totals: 10-4-4-27.
WEST MIDDLESEX — A. Long 1-0-0-2, Williams 2-2-2-7, Roberts 0-0-0-0, J. Porterfield 3-1-3-7, Staunch 7-11-14-25, Dogan 1-0-0-3. 3-pt. goals: Williams 1, Dogan 1. Totals: 14-14-19-44.
JV — WM, 37-23. Travis Roberts 11 for WM.
JAMESTOWN 2 1 5 6 14
KENNEDY 27 23 19 16 85
JAMESTOWN — Potter 1-0-1-3, Moss 2-0-1-4, Depree 1-0-0-2, Melton 1-2-4-4, Lorigan 0-1-2-1. 3-pt. goal: Potter 1. Totals: 5-3-8-14.
KENNEDY CATHOLIC — Campbell 6-0-1-13, Zachar 4-0-0-8, Schuville 3-0-0-7, Stanek 2-0-4-4, N. Cianci 5-1-2-11, Perrico 4-1-2-12, G. Cianci 3-0-0-6, Crow 5-0-0-10, Wilson 3-1-2-7, Phillips 3-0-0-7. 3-pt. goals: Perrico 3, Campbell 1, Schuville 1, Phillips 1. Totals: 38-3-11-85.
JV — KC, 80-11. Jerod Messett 20, Jacob Wilson 15 for KC.
VISIONQUEST 8 6 2 11 27
HICKORY 34 33 20 14 101
VISIONQUEST — Robinson 6-1-2-13, Williams 2-0-0-4, Dark 3-0-2-6, Acres 1-0-0-2, White 1-0-0-2. Totals: 13-1-7-27.
HICKORY — Conley 3-0-0-6, Tantuo 4-3-3-11, A. Cannone 5-0-0-14, Pryts 6-2-3-14, Green 5-1-3-11, R. Passalinqua 1-2-2-4, N. Cannone 3-0-0-6, Mastrian 5-0-0-12, Rhodes 3-0-0-6, Dorko 0-0-0-0, Gagliardi 0-0-0-0, DeJulia 1-2-4-4, Laverty 2-0-0-5, Nardone 1-1-3-3, M. Passalinqa 2-0-0-5. 3-pt. goals: A. Cannone 4, Mastrian 2, Laverty 1, M. Passalinqua 1. Totals: 41-11-18-101.
JV — No game.
SHARON 13 10 23 24 70
OIL CITY 20 19 15 20 74
SHARON — Hawkins 2-0-0-5, Henry 3-1-2-8, Austin 7-2-2-20, Waller 9-2-6-20, Seay 0-0-0-0, Jennings 5-1-1-13, Stovall 2-0-0-4, Magestro 0-0-0-0. 3-pt. goals: Austin 4, Jennings 2, Hawkins 1, Henry 1. Totals: 28-6-11-70.
OIL CITY — Way 7-4-4-18, Serbati 4-1-2-9, Williams 5-7-9-19, Flaherty 0-0-0-0, Geib 6-10-12-23, McFall 0-2-4-2, Ragsdale 1-1-2-3, Lukasiak 0-0-0-0, Staub 0-0-0-0. 3-pt. goals: Williams 2, Geib 1. Totals: 23-25-35-74.
JV — No score reported.
FRANKLIN 40, GROVE CITY 28
182 — Hunter Exley (F) pinned Zion Scriven, 3:51; 195 — Nate Miller (F) pinned Austin Birckbichler, 2:26; 220 — Jared Reppart (GC) maj. dec. Jeff Craig, 11-3; 285 — Mike McCool (F) pinned Morgan Kordes, 4:17; 106 — Cory Bable (GC) forfeit; 113 — Bryce Martin (GC) pinned Cabel Jolley, :51; 120 — Nate Stielvoger (F) dec. Jacob Powell, 9-3; 126 — Druex Harper (F) major dec. Brayden Large, 12-0; 132 — Luke Walter (GC) dec. Zack Sharrer, 8-2; 138 — Hunter Cook (F) pinned Dalton Meals, 2:32; 145 — Derrick Steetle (F) dec. Jared Sample, 6-1; 152 — Chet Simoni (GC) pinned Hagan Cook, 2:57; 160 — Kenny Bable (GC) dec. Tyler Carey, 9-5; 170 — Dakota Geer (F) pinned Cordell Sanders, 2:35. JV: No match.
There’s a fine line between playing to win and playing not to lose. Wilmington High boys’ basketball toed that line during Wednesday night’s Region 2-AA affair at Sharpsville.
Hickory's incredible run ends against Blackhawk
BUTLER — Shakespeare warned us to “beware the Ides of March” — March 15, the assassination of Julius Caesar.
In the year 2014, on the Ides of March, it was more a case of beware Blackhawk and the eyes of Chassidy Omogrosso.
Omogrosso owned the free-throw line Saturday afternoon, converting all 13 of her attempts in leading the Lady Cougars 48-45 PIAA Elite Eight round win over Hickory.
Vincentian ousts KC for 3rd straight year
BUTLER — Legend has it, when Coach Eddie McCluskey, at season’s end saw his players weeping — despite the disappointment of defeat — he took it as a good sign because they’d given their all and had nothing more to give.
For the 3rd consecutive season Kennedy Catholic High girls basketball program had its season short-circuited by perennial power Vincentian Academy, on Saturday by a 56-29 count.
CV overcomes 16-point deficit to oust Farrell
NEW CASTLE — Playing in pain, playing with pride, playing with composure — all important components to winning basketball games.
But understanding how to play with prosperity is equally important; failing to do so by losing one’s composure can prove painful to one’s pride.
Farrell High boys basketball’s proud program painfully permitted a 16-point halftime spread to evaporate, resulting in a 69-62 PIAA playoffs loss to Central Valley Friday night.
Buzzer-beater in OT lifts Hickory past defending state champs
With 4 seconds remaining in overtime during Thursday night’s PIAA Class AAA quarterfinal-round game, Holly Grober had tears in her eyes.
Tears of agony.
Megan Chess had attempted just 2 shots and not scored a point.
She finished the game scoreless.
KC girls oust Claysburg-Kimmel, 45-38
GREENSBURG, Pa. — Nobody said it would be easy. Not when you get to the second round of the PIAA playoffs. But nobody said it would brutal!
“That was a very, very physical game,” said a relieved Kennedy Catholic coach Chris Mele after his team defeated a hard-nosed group of Lady Bulldogs from Claysburg-Kimmel, 45-38, Thursday night at Hempfield High School.
Big Reds fall to Greensburg Central Catholic
WEXFORD — The West Middlesex High boys basketball team was eliminated from the PIAA playoffs Thursday night following a 73-57 loss to Greensburg Central Catholic.
“The ball didn’t bounce our way (Thursday) night, and I’m kind of disappointed about it. But our effort was still there,” West Middlesex mentor Chad Mild said.
PIAA hoop games postponed
Because of the inclement weather moving in on Wednesday, all PIAA basketball playoff games involving District 10 teams were postponed until today.
ä The Kennedy Catholic girls game will be at Hempfield High, Greensburg, at 6:30 p.m.
ä The Villa Maria and Mercyhurst Prep doubleheader is scheduled at Sharon High School for 6:30 and 8 p.m.
ä The West Middlesex boys game is scheduled at 7 p.m. at North Allegheny High School, Wexford.
ä The Hickory girls and McDowell doubleheader is moved from Slippery Rock University to Farrell High School at 6:30 and 8 p.m.
The Farrell vs. Central Valley Class AAA boys game is 7 p.m. Friday at New Castle Area High School.
Farrell ousts Uniontown in overtime, 86-72
PENN HILLS — Five decades did nothing to diminish the intensity of the Farrell-Uniontown boys basketball rivalry. What transpired back in the 1960’s reverberated as recently as Tuesday night during the PIAA Class AA quarterfinals.
And just as it did approximately a half-century ago, Farrell forged past Uniontown, this time 86-72 in overtime at Penn Hills High.
LOCALS ELSEWHERE: Spon, Cianci, Trudo, Giroski in the news
Several former athletes or coaches from Mercer County are making news in sports elsewhere. Following are their stories:
Breese defends heavyweight title at PIAA Championships
HERSHEY, Pa. — Move over Rod Wright!
Lakeview senior heavyweight star Sam Breese had a goal coming into the PIAA State Class AA Wrestling Championships this weekend at Hershey Giant Center — besides winning a second state crown, that is.
WM knocks off Neshannock in PIAA playoffs
SLIPPERY ROCK — The notion of Trey Staunch sneaking up on opposing teams is laughable. At 6-foot-3 and approximately 225 pounds, the stout Staunch is not sneaking up on anyone.
However after posting a game-high 31-point, 18-rebound performance in West Middlesex High basketball team’s 76-66 PIAA Class AA playoffs opening-round win over Neshannock Saturday night, Staunch said opponents may have been overlooking the Big Reds.
Hickory girls 26-0, oust Johnstown
SLIPPERY ROCK — At Morrow Field House Saturday evening, the Hickory Lady Hornets kept the perfect season alive with a 63-37 state playoff first round win over the Greater Johnstown Trojans from District 6.
“It feels great to get the win (Saturday),” said veterans Hickory coach Jeanette Whitehead. “We’ve been at this place over the last few years and we’ve been sent home in the first round so it was a huge win for us. I’m very proud of our team effort."
KC girls roll past California in PIAA playoffs
SLIPPERY ROCK — Kennedy Catholic High girls’ basketball team was in the ’hood Saturday afternoon.
Led by senior Taylor Hood, the Lady Golden Eagles eased past California, 53-34, in the opening round of the PIAA Class A playoffs.
Lakeview's Breese to defend PIAA title
HERSHEY, Pa. — If you are Major League Baseball player, a .333 batting average is great. But in wrestling at the state tournament — not so much!
Out of the dozen wrestlers that Mercer County sent to Hershey for the PIAA State Class AA Wrestling Championships, only four (.333) will reach the medal stand today — led by Lakeview senior Sam Breese who shoots for a second straight gold medal.
Farrell edges Montour, 60-57, in PIAA opener
Montour High boys’ basketball coach Adam Kaufman lamented another season-ending setback. However there are several hundred coaches across the Commonwealth who envy his program’s recent success and would trade places with him in a heartbeat.
But during Friday night’s PIAA Class AAA playoff opener, Kaufman & Co. could not overcome those streaky Steelers ... those survivin’ Steelers.
“ ... Hey, survive and move on,” summarized Steelers’ skipper Roland Shannonhouse following Farrell’s 60-57 win at Sharon High.
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