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.
“They just continued to fight, and they took the game to another level in the first four minutes of the third quarter, and we didn’t respond,” Steelers’ skipper Roland Shannonhouse said in praise of WPIAL champion Central Valley (25-3).
“Our guys just sort of ... panicked. It’s the first time I’ve seen them panic for an extended amount of time,” Shannonhouse admitted. “(The Warriors) forced us into some ... quick shots and we didn’t move the ball well to eat up the clock and put them into foul trouble.
“We had a lot of chances to move the ball into our strength and situations where we could put them in foul trouble, but we just didn’t do it. We panicked a little bit, and it cost us,” added Shannonhouse.
Valley vaulted to an 11-0 second half-opening surge, trimming its 38-22 halftime deficit to 38-33 with 5:22 remaining in the 3rd quarter. But with Malik Miller mustering 5 markers, Chris James joining in with 4 and Terrance Holloway converting a steal into a score, the Steelers seemed to weather the storm.
James’ pair of free throws and jumper off a Valley turnovers forged Farrell to a 50-39 lead through 3 quarters.
But the Warriors went on a 154 run to commence the 4th frame, knotting the count at 54 with 4:08 remaining on John George’s corner triple. Miller’s freebie 22 ticks later staked the Steelers to a short-lived 55-54 lead. But with exactly 3 minutes left Matt Kline converted a traditional 3-point play after recovering a loose ball when teammate Michael Sims was stripped under the basket.
When the Warriors went up 57-55, they never relinquished the lead.
“Our (defensive) pressure’s really bailed us out in a few games this year, so we’re very comfortable playing from behind, believe it or not,” related 4th-year Valley Head Coach Brandon Ambrose. “Once we got (the deficit) under seven or eight, I felt really good.
“They’re competive kids, so when they’re in a situation where they’re getting beat up and they’re down and they’re struggling, they find a way to fight back, they always do,” continued Ambrose in assessing his Warriors. “And I knew they would come out hard in the second half, especially when we challenged them and got in their face a little bit and questioned them a little bit, as far as their toughness.”
Unlike Tuesday’s quarterfinal-round overtime win over Uniontown when Farrell finished with a substantial edge from the free-throw line, Central Valley reversed that scenario
At NeCaHi Field House, the Warriors went 25 for 41 from the line (61 percent), actually converting more shots than Farrell attempted (17 for 24, 70.8 percent). In building that 16-point bulge by the break the Steelers’ sin-stripe shooting showed 12-for-14 accuracy, compared with Valley’s 5-for-10 output.
However Shannonhouse emphasized, “To be perfectly honest with you, I thought the game was well officiated. We did not play well in the third quarter. We relaxed, and it finally came back and bit us.
“We’d been going back and forth with that eight-to-ten point lead that we’ve been relinquishing for five games, and this time we came up against a quality team who took that momentum and ran with it, and there was nothing we could do about it,” Shannonhouse assessed.
In addition to Ike Jones, Holloway and Jamel Brown being DQ’d on personal fouls, four other Farrell performers finished with 4 fouls.
Central Valley — which will meet Susquehanna Township, a 75-57 winner over Lancaster Mennonite, Tuesday night at site and time to be announced — was led by double-digit scorers Tony Gates (18), Sims (16) and Kline and George (11 apiece). Leading scorer Jacob St. George, scoreless for 3-plus periods after missing his first 5 floor shots, contributed 7 points in the 4th frame to the Warriors’ win.
For Farrell (24-4), Miller manufactured a game-high 21 markers, connecting on 4 from beyond the arc, while James joined him in double digits with 15. Also, Clifton McNair mustered 9 points and 9 rebounds.
Jones and fellow seniors Tyrone Archie and Dewayne Burns, along with junior Brown, combined for only 13 points, 10 rebounds and 3 assists. All four were plagued with foul problems as each had at least 2 first-half personals; Burns 3.
However, in assessing his seniors — including Tionté Davis — Shannonhouse said, “It’s hard to pay them a little tribute. I would like to stand here and talk about those guys all day. I’ve had those guys ever since they were freshmen.
“They were there every day, they never complained, their attitudes were good, even when you had to jump on ’em and discipline ’em. They never pouted or backed down; they continued to come in and worked, and they are shining examples for the underclassmen.
“I mean, you couldn’t ask for a better group of seniors than what we had, and that’s where I really feel bad,” Shannonhouse continued. “You’re gonna win some games and lose some games.
“I’ve been here a thousand times, and that’s all there is to it: You’re gonna win some big games and you’re gonna lose some big games,” Shannonhouse continued. “But you feel that pain, you feel that hurt for those seniors who put their hearts and souls into this program — for those guys, their whole lives. They’ve been with this program since the fifth grade.
“They did an excellent job. I tried to tell them that, right now it’s a difficult time, to lose that last game. But you still can’t take away from what they did,” Shannonhouse said. “They put us back on the map. I haven’t seen Farrell fans’ camraderie, the excitement in the air, in years, since oh-nine, I hadn’t seen it. They brought the program back and put it on the map.
“Would I have liked to go a little bit further? No doubt about it,” Shannonhouse admitted. “But they did a heckava job, and I’m proud of them.”
PIAA CLASS AAA
FARRELL 14 24 12 12 62
CENTRAL VALL. 13 9 17 30 69
FARRELL — Burns 0-2-2-2, Brown 1-1-4-3, Jones 1-1-2-3, Archie 1-3-4-5, James 5-2-2-15, McNair 3-3-4-9, Miller 7-3-4-21, Holloway 1-2-2-4. 3-pt. goals: Miller 4, James 3. Totals:19-17-24-62.
CENTRAL VALLEY — St. George 2-2-4-7, Gates 7-3-3-18, Kline 2-7-11-11, George 3-3-7-11, Sims 4-8-11-16, Powell 2-0-0-4, Anastas 0-2-5-2, Kolich 0-0-0-0, Lucci 0-0-0-0. 3-pt. goals: George 2, Gates 1, St. George 1. Totals: 20-25-41-69.