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February 27, 2013

D-10 Semis: KC beats VQ; WM tops Fairview; Lakeview beats Mercyhurst

---- — All 3 area boys teams advanced to the District 10 championship games with wins on Tuesday in the D-10 semifinals.

In Class A, Kennedy Catholic posted its 3rd win this season over VisionQuest with a 68-46 victory at Sharon High School. They advance to play Cochranton in the title game.

West Middlesex and Lakeview will battle for the D-10 Class AA crown after both rolled to wins on Tuesday night. The Sailors beat Mercyhurst Prep, 59-46, at Mercyhurst College in Erie while the Big Reds defeated Fairview, 58-48, at Sharon High School.

Following are staff reports:

CLASS A

ä Kennedy Catholic 68, VisionQuest 46 —
Sometimes when you beat a team badly twice in a season, it’s difficult to get up for that third meeting. That was one of the big fears of Kennedy coach Rick Mancino who wasn’t happy with his team despite the 22-point playoff victory Tuesday night at Sharon High School.

“We got off to a slow start and that was my worst fear,” said Mancino. “We hadn’t played for a while and I told the team, just because we beat them twice already doesn’t mean it will be easy.

“We had to have missed a million lay-ups. That first half we got outhustled and outplayed, but in the playoffs getting a win is the main thing. We have some things to take care of before the weekend.”

Kennedy (16-6) will meet a familiar foe, Cochranton at a site and time to be announced for the District 10 A title, a title that has eluded the Golden Eagles since 2009.

“We beat (Cochranton) on our floor this year (69-65) but it wasn’t easy,” said Mancino. “I’m sure they felt they could have won that game. I think we beat them the last four times we played (twice in the playoffs the last two seasons), so they’ll be hungry. We need to play a lot better than we did tonight, that’s for sure.”

Kennedy did get off to a slow start against VisionQuest, a team they beat by scores of 99-60 and 77-40 during the regular season.

In fact, the Golden Eagles trailed almost the whole first quarter before Jimmy D’Onforio canned a trey with 43 seconds remaining for a 10-9 lead and then nailed another 3-pointer a short time later to give KC a 13-9 margin after the first period.

“I told Jimmy he would need to shoot,” said Mancino. “Otherwise they will just pack it inside against Mac (Hartman). He even asked me to take some extra practice this week and we went in the gym and shot and shot.”

That apparently loosened up the triangle-two VC defense and D’Onofrio and backcourt mate Gerald Zachar began to pump the ball inside to Hartman in the second period. During that frame the 6-foot-6 senior Hartman scored 9 points on inside baskets and foul shots as Kennedy moved to a 33-22 halftime margin.

Kennedy took control in the third period by outgunning VisionQuest, 27-7, as the KC defense forced numerous turnovers that turned into quick points. Hartman and D’Onforio each had 6 points in the frame and the Golden Eagles were on top 60-29 heading into the final frame.

Hartman had 16 points, while D’Onofrio finished with 14 to lead the way. Demetrius McClennan led VisionQuest (10-14) with 14 markers, while Abdur Amin added 11.

“I was upset about the missed lay-ups,” said Mancino. “I don’t know how many points Mac had, but he could have had 20 points more. I was made at Mac coming off the floor, but he let me know he was mad at himself. That’s the kind of kid he is. He’ll be ready to come back strong.

“We were fortunate to come away with that win,” said Mancino, who watched as his club made 31 of 62 shots. Luckily on defense we were able to work on pressuring their guards to keep them from getting it inside to their big guys. We’ll get back to work and be ready for the District 10 championship.” — By Lynn Saternow, Herald sports editor.

CLASS AA

ä West Middlesex 58, Fairview 48 —
In the nightcap of Tuesday’s twin bill at Tiger Gymnasium, Middlesex moved into the District 10 championship game for the 2nd straight season — this year in Class AA. However, it was not the Big Reds’ rout to which its fan base has grown accustomed.

With 4:48 remaining, Fairview’s Marc Corbin connected for a left-wing 3-point field goal, trimming the Tigers’ deficit to 50-46.

From that juncture, though, the Tigers twice turned over the ball, while West Middlesex’s Matt Dogan delivered the dagger. Dogan dealt a pass to post Trey Staunch for a score, then added 2 free throws with 1:43 remaining.

“We knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Our fans, they expect twenty-point, thirty-point wins, but it’s not gonna happen every night,” admitted veteran Middlesex mentor Chad Mild.

“That was our game plan going in. We thought we had nothing to lose playing against one of the best teams in the state,” Tigers’ taskmaster Keith Nies said. “We wanted to go out and compete and see what we could do, and I thought my kids played with a lot of heart, played with a lot of character. But the ball bounced (the Big Reds’) way a couple times, and they’re a great team.”

As it has done thus far this season — 431 of 619 free-throw attempts (69.6 percent) coming into the contest — Middlesex made the most of the charity stripe during the 1st half. The Reds recorded 12 of 18 marksmanship and committed only 4 miscues en route to a 32-25 margin at intermission.

During the 2nd half, however, Middlesex made only 7 of its dozen attempts. Dogan — 159 of 223 (71.3 percent) thus far this season — twice missed the front end of 1-and-1’s and shot only 4 for 8 from the sin stripe.

But as always, Dogan delivered. Despite Fairview’s box-and-one and triangle-and-two defensive schemes, Dogan dealt the Tigers a 22-point, 8-rebound, 4-assist line, while Staunch secured a 14-point, 10-rebound double-double. Also, Jerrod Palmer — scoreless during the 1st half — pumped in a pair of 3rd-period 3-pointers, while Christian Porterfield popped in another. Porterfield posted 8 points in all.

While fearless, Fairview (15-9) faltered during the 4th frame, turning over the ball 4 times and connecting on only 3 of 10 floor shots. Also, Fairview finished with 15 turnovers.

“One thing that we’ve done all year — miss or make, we tell our boys to keep shooting, and eventually they’re gonna fall,” Nies noted. “But against a good team, that was one of our keys, not to turn over the ball against (the Reds), to limit our turnovers. But they’re a good team and they cause you to turn the ball over sometimes, and that’s why they’re ranked third in the state.”

Fairview finished 19 for 31 from the field (61.2), but the Tigers attempted only 2 free throws. Comparatively, West Middlesex went 17 for 42 from the floor (40.4), but by sheer volume the Reds rode 18-for-30 free-throw shooting.

Andy Niland notched 13 points, tossing in a trio of treys, for Fairview, while Daniel Carey connected for 10 tallies. But Carey and Corbin were disqualified on personals with 22 ticks apart in the 4th quarter. Daniel Dewey also was DQ’d on fouls, while Ben Kocan incurred 4.

“I really thought we drew the better team in District 10 — outside of Lakeview and us,” admitted Mild. “We knew that they could shoot, and, you know, basketball’s all about a game of matchups. They had those little guards out there, and they were fearless. Coach Nies is an awesome coach, great program.”

Middlesex (21-3) mustered its 17th consecutive conquest.

“It’s going to be a long road right now. We’ve got a target on our back, and we’re looking forward to the challenge,” Mild mused.

“I thought our kids were very mature, they’ve seen a lot of things like that,” Mild praised. “We know some nights we’re not gonna put a lot of points up, so we’ve just gotta grind it out, and I was proud of my kids.”

By Ed Farrell, Herald assistant sports editor.

ä Lakeview 59, Mercyhurst Prep 46 — At Mercyhurst University’s Mercyhurst Athletic Center, the Lakeview Sailors, perhaps, will be making their first appearance in the District 10 Finals.

“It would be safe to say yes,” Lakeview coach Gary Burke said. “I’ll have to check on that. (Lakeview) had some good teams back in the 1950s, but there hasn’t been a time anytime recently that Lakeview has made it to the District 10 championship game, so hopefully, we can make some history.”

To make ‘history,’ the Sailors will have to find a way to solve Region 2AA nemesis West Middlesex (21-3), who beat Lakeview 46-34 and 62-47 in the regular season, Friday night in D-10 finals at a site and time to be determined, while the Lakers (16-8) and Fairview (15-9) will battle for the third seed out of D-10.

“Anybody that beats Middlesex is going to make history,” Burke said. “Hopefully, we can make it a pretty special night (for the Lakeview community). We’re going to go out and play. We’ve done some pretty good things against them in both games. We’ve had some missed assignments and we’ve missed some wide open shots. Against a team of that caliber, you have to play a perfect game. Hopefully, we play a perfect game and they miss some shots and not bearen’t at their best. But, I expect them to be at their best, so we’ll have to play very well to beat them. It’s going to be a tremendous atmosphere.

“We told the guys ‘Yes, we’ve lost to them twice, but let’s go see them a third time.’ I’m hoping we can work some magic. Back in my heyday, we lost to Somerset twice in the regular season, but beat them for the league championship. I’m hoping to use some Windber mojo on these guys and maybe pull off a very unexpected win.”

The Sailors will be making that initial appearance in the D-10 Finals thanks to their ‘dynamic duo’ of seniors Dalton Boggs and Casey Greggs, who nearly outscored the Lakers by themselves with a combined 44 points.

Boggs knocked down 8-of-12 shots for 22 points, while pulling down a game-high 9 boards, dishing out 6 assists and corralling 3 steals.

Meanwhile, Greggs had perhaps his best effort of the season with 22 points, 8 steals, 6 blocks, 6 rebounds and 4 assists.

“It was all about Dalton being about to get to the rim in that first half. I didn’t think they had anyone that could stop him – and they didn’t,” Burke said. “He put us on his shoulders there for a little while and doesn’t Casey step up and give us not only 11 points in the first half, but his defensive effort was tremendous for our confidence.

“Casey really needs to be commended for his effort and his willingness to put the team on his shoulders the entire night. Regardless of the points he puts up because he is a 1,000-point scorer, it’s all those intangibles that he brings that no one else on that court can bring. Casey can do things that are quite frankly out of everyone else’s reach. When he brings that type of energy and determination, he makes a tremendous amount of good things happen for this team.”

There were plenty of good things happening for Lakeview over the first half’s final 9 minutes when the Sailors limited the Lakers to just one field goal – a Carl Anderson 3-pointer midway through the second quarter – over a 19-3 Lakeview run.

“We knew we had to set the tone on the defensive end,” Burke said. “We were able to function on the offensive end in the first half and that was fantastic, but we’re in the District 10 semifinals and we held a team like Mercyhurst Prep to 15 points in the first half. It was just a tremendous team effort.”

Mercyhurst Prep attempted to get back into the game with a 10-2 run to start the second half and got as close as 9 on two occasions, but Lakeview was able to seal the game with an 8 for 10 performance from the charity stripe in the closing minutes of the game.

Notes: Lakeview went 20-of-36 from the field and 16-of-22 from the line, while MPS was 17-of-45 and 7-of-12. … Alex Borges led the Lakers with 15 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocks, while Anderson tacked on 14 tallies and 5 boards. … Lakeview held a slim 32-29 edge on the boards, but had one more turnover 15-14. … Coty Gander had 6 points and 7 rebounds, while Brandon Rice had 9 points for Lakeview. … The Sailors had 14 assists. --- Information submitted by Herald Sports Correspondent Corey J. Corbin.

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