EDINBORO — All good things must come to an end!
Unfortunately for the Lakeview Sailors (23-5), that ending didn’t come in a storybook fashion with a state championship in Hershey, but rather, with a gut-wrenching 56-44 loss to WPIAL champion and No. 1 ranked Beaver Falls in the PIAA Western Region Semifinals Saturday afternoon at Edinboro University’s McComb Fieldhouse.
With the win, the Tigers (26-3) will face West Middlesex (25-3) in the PIAA Western Region Finals at a site and time to be determined Tuesday.
“For several months, this team sold out for each other and you can’t ask for anything more,” Lakeview coach Gary Burke said. “We talk team all the time. Yeah, the individual stuff is great, but we talk about the team being more important than anything. I don’t know how you could be more proud of a group of young men that came in day-after-day and battled. A lot of people thought Lakeview was pretty good, but I don’t think anyone expected us to get this far. That says so much about these kids. This was very, very special.”
After Beaver Falls jumped out to an early 7-0 lead, the Sailors charged back to keep the deficit to within a pair of buckets — 9 times they were within 6 points — but each time, Beaver Falls answered to push their lead to a more comfortable cushion.
The most notable coming at the start of the second half when Coty Gander converted a traditional three-point play to pull the Sailors to within 27-24.
The Lakeview defense forced Beaver Falls into 3 straight misses, but the Sailor offense failed to capitalize on the opportunity before the Tigers reeled off 5 straight points to take a more comfortable 32-24 lead.
Two free throws from Casey Greggs, a traditional three-point play from Dalton Boggs and a Zach VanDusen lay-up ended the third frame with the Sailors pulling to within 35-31, but Beaver Falls extended its lead back to 9 at 42-33 on a trey from Drew Cook and a pair of freebies from Elijah Cottrill and Dan Stratton.
Again, Lakeview charged back and cut the lead to 46-41 on a Boggs triple midway through the fourth quarter, but the Sailors would get no closer as Beaver Falls connected on 6-of-10 freebies to ice the game before Cottrill literally slammed the door shut with a transition dunk in the closing seconds.
“We’d get it to within a bucket or two and we’d make some unforced errors,” Burke said. “You have to give credit to Beaver Falls, because our kids were expecting that extra pressure and when they didn’t get it, we anticipated it and made a mistake because of it. That goes with the territory. When you get to this point in the season, you’re eventually going to run into a great team, but there’s a reason why we’re in the Elite Eight. We proved that tonight.”
While the Sailors had very little problems solving the Tigers’ vaunted pressure defense, Beaver Falls still coerced Lakeview into a season-high 26 turnovers.
“We handled their full-court pressure bar none better than anyone else has up to this point in the season,” Burke said. “Our kids were mentally prepared for their full-court press and we took them out of it. It was little bit of a surprise that they were able to turn us over as many times as they did in the half-court. We had uncharacteristic turnovers from guys that generally don’t make turnovers.”
Lakeview was led by its three senior starters — Boggs (16 points, 5 rebounds), Greggs (12 points, 4 assists) and Gander (10-point, 12-rebound double-double).
“We needed to do a better job of making ourselves available to Dalton when he came across the half-court,” Burke said. “At times, we got lackadaisical and didn’t give Dalton the help he needed to get us into our offensive sets.
“We did have some good looks. The kids scrapped and they hustled. They had some great basketball looks. Our kids just battled and that’s all you can ask for.”
With the loss, Lakeview must say good-bye to a pair of 1,000-point scorers in Boggs and Greggs, a two-year starter in Gander and a valued reserve in Andrew Fowler.
“I was asked a couple weeks ago if this was a great group of basketball players coming all the way up through (the program),” Burke said. “I said ‘No, they were a great group of kids.’ They were great kids from the word go, but they weren’t great basketball players. What they’ve been able to accomplish to this point is absolutely amazing.
“Dalton, Casey and Coty especially have played a lot of basketball and they got Andrew Fowler to come with them to play basketball. Those four have been thick as thieves. They are four kids that wanted the best for themselves and everyone around them. They were developed. If it weren’t Coach (Larry) Boggs getting these guys started in the elementary program and it weren’t for our LBA program and the coaches all the way up through, these kids wouldn’t be sitting here with their hearts ripped out of their chests. Some day, they’ll be able to look back and see what we really accomplished this year. Yeah, we don’t have any banners up on the wall for the season, but there hasn’t been a team that has garnered as much respect from the community than this group of seniors right here.”
Notes: Cook led Beaver Falls with 19 points, while Stratton and Cottrill contributed 15 and 14 points, respectively. ... Beaver Falls had 9 turnovers — including 5 in the third quarter. ... Lakeview held a 29-22 edge on the glass. ... VanDusen had 4 assists. ... Lakeview knocked down 15-of-37 field goals, 10-of-12 free throws and 4-of-11 from downtown. ... Beaver Falls made 17-of-43 shots, 19-of-25 from the line and 4-of-8 from behind the three-point line.
PIAA CLASS AA
WESTERN REGION QUARTERFINALS
LAKEVIEW 9 12 10 13 44
BEAVER FALLS 12 15 8 21 56
LAKEVIEW — Boggs 5-4-5-16, Greggs 3-4-4-12, Gander 4-2-2-10, B. Rice 2-0-0-4, VanDusen 1-0-1-2, A. Rice 0-0-0-0. 3-pt. goals: Boggs 2, Greggs 2. Totals: 15-10-12-44.
BEAVER FALLS — Cook 6-5-6-19, Cottrill 3-8-10-14, Akins 2-0-2-4, Turner 1-0-0-2, Stratton 4-6-7-15, Miller 1-0-0-2, Mason 0-0-0-0. 3-pt. goals: Cook 2, Stratton 1. Totals: 17-19-25-56.
EDINBORO — All good things must come to an end!
5 area matmen to quarterfinals in Hershey
Only 5 of the county’s dozen entries — led by defending state champ Sam Breese of Lakeview (285) — won their preliminary matches to move into the tournament quarterfinals which begin at 9 a.m. today. However the other 7 lost their first matches, although 3 are still alive in the consolations heading into this morning’s action.
Coach Chad Mild's Big Reds are road warriors
West Middlesex High boys basketball team did not play its first home game until after the first of the year, but competing at New Castle, Farrell and Youngstown’s Covelli Centre has served it well.
Witness West Middlesex’s 55-54 win over Fairview in last weekend’s District 10 Class AA championship game — at Edinboro University’s McComb Field House.
Boys PIAA basketball preview boxes
Who: Farrell (22-3) vs. Montour (16-8).
What: Opening round.
When: 7:30 p.m. today.
Where: Sharon High’s Tiger Gymnasium.
Hickory, Mercer, KC girls PIAA playoff boxes
Who: Hickory (25-0) vs. Greater Johnstown (11-14).
What: PIAA Playoffs, 1st round.
When: 5:30 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Slippery Rock University.
Shannonhouse's Steelers set for statewide stage
With the approaching spring, a young man’s fancy turns to ... what else? The PIAA playoffs. And when Shenango Valley scholastic basketball aficionados think of the postseason they think of Farrell.
Recently at E.J. McCluskey Gymnasium, the banners above were blowing in the breeze — ’52 ... ’54 ... ’56 ... ’59 ... ’60 ... ’69 ... ’72 — swaying as sprinting players created a vacuum of air rising from the floor. Melodramatic maybe, but there’s a feeling at Farrell that harkens back to the heyday when playoff success was a rite of passage.
Breese eyes repeat at state mat tourney
There is no doubt that winning a state championship in wrestling is a difficult thing to do. Winning two is even tougher.
“There’s a target on your chest,” pointed out Lakeview High coach Tom Tingley in preseason this year, referring to his star wrestler Sam Breese who won a state heavyweight crown as a junior last year.
Obviously that target hasn’t bothered the Sailors big man who is a perfect 32-0 this season as he attempts to become only the 12th Mercer County matman to win multiple titles.
WRESTLING NOTEBOOK: It's a young group of county matmen headed to state
THERE’S definitely a youth movement in Mercer County wrestling as demonstrated by the group of 11 matmen who are advancing to the PIAA State Class AA Championships on Thursday.
Eight of the locals are underclassmen. The only seniors are Lakeview’s Sam Breese (285), Reynolds’ Levi Stoyer (145) and Jamestown’s Mohamed Messai (182).
Breese and Stoyer are the only returning state place-winners. Breese, who has verbally committed to Kent State University to wrestle next season, won the heavyweight class and is seeking a second gold medal. Stoyer placed 7th at 145 and wants to climb much higher on the medals stand.
Kennedy boys forfeit win, are out of playoffs
The PIAA basketball playoffs do not begin until Friday, but Mercer County already lost a team.
Kennedy Catholic High disclosed Monday the discovery of an academically-ineligible player, who competed in last Friday’s District 10 Class A consolation contest.
Kennedy Catholic edged Eisenhower in double-OT, 66-62, earning a berth in the statewide tournament. The Golden Eagles were to meet District 9 champion Ridgway Friday at Clarion University’s Tippin Gymnasium in the opening round; instead, Eisenhower will represent D-10 as its 3rd-place team.
Raiders win 17th region title; 11 locals to Hershey
When Reynolds senior Levi Stoyer came off the mat after his 145-pound championship at the Northwest AA Regional Championships, he wasn’t celebrating his second straight crown. Instead, he turned to head coach Casey Taylor and said, “I did it for the team.”
And the team needed it!
Stoyer defeated Brookville’s Zach Vroman, 3-0, and sent Reynolds on its way to the school’s 17th region team title Saturday night at Sharon High School. Reynolds finished with 147 points, to Brookville’s 138.
Hickory girls capture 1st district title since 1983
MEADVILLE — Depending upon peoples’ perceptions, 31 years can seem like a lifetime ... but so can 16 minutes.
Hickory High girls’ basketball program’s District 10 drought ended Saturday afternoon as perennial power Villa Maria virtually vanished from the 2nd-half scoreboard.
The Lady Hornets erased a 7-point halftime deficit by yielding just 4 second-half points en route to a 39-24 victory over Villa Maria in the District 10 Class AAA championship game.
KC beats Cochranton for 4th straight D-10 crown
MEADVILLE — Everybody is on April Bocian’s bandwagon — and rightly so. But Tatum Kress helped keep Kennedy Catholic High girls’ basketball program atop District 10’s Class A competition.
Kress connected for all 14 of her points during the 2nd half Saturday afternoon, keying the Kennedy Catholic to a 49-38 conquest of Cochranton.
McLane rallies to beat Mercer in AA title tilt
In 1986, the Mercer Lady M’s won the school’s first and only girls basketball District 10 title at Edinboro University’s McComb Field House, but in the same gym on Saturday in 2014, the squad in blue wasn’t so lucky.
Mercer led the Gen. McLane Lady Lancers 27-19 entering the fourth quarter, but the Lancers outscored the Lady M’s 19-4 in the final frame to win the Class AA title tilt 38-31.
WM captures 3rd straight D-10 crown
EDINBORO — The West Middlesex Big Reds did it again! For the third straight year, the Big Reds, under the leadership of head coach Chad Mild, the winningest coach in West Middlesex school history, won the District 10 title with a thrilling 55-54 victory over the Fairview Tigers on Friday night at McComb Field House.
Farrell beats East for D-10 Class AAA title
MEADVILLE — Malik Miller was playing with a broken hand, but broke the hearts of East High’s basketball team.
Sophomore sharpshooter Miller mustered 19 markers — tossing in 4 from beyond the arc — helping forge Farrell to the District 10 Class AAA championship, 83-78.
Raiders hold lead at Northwest AA Region Tourney
Reynolds coach Casey Taylor had a simple, but fitting comment after the opening night of the Northwest AA Region Wrestling Championships at Sharon High School Friday:
“So far; so good!”
The defending champion Raiders, who are seeking a 17th region crown in school history, jumped into the team lead with 45 points Friday, heading second place Brookville with 35.
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