The Lakeview boys basketball team beat West Middlesex on Friday, 49-46, in the District 10 Class 2A consolation game while Sharpsville rallied to beat Mercyhurst Prep, 66-63, in the 3A consolation game.
The Sailors, Reds and Devils all advance to the PIAA playoffs.
Following are staff reports:
• Lakeview 49, West Middlesex 46 – At E.J. McCluskey Gymnasium, Garrett Blaschak knew the answer, but the words were clenched in his throat. So he simply allowed the moisture emanating from his eyes speak for him.
Blaschak’s grandfather, for whom he was named – Chuck Garrett – was a longtime Mercer County cage coach, and prior to that, a standout athlete at West Middlesex High.
Friday night, 1st-year Sailors’ skipper Blaschak’s ballers are heading to the PIAA playoffs.
“It feels great, it feels great! It’s been a long ride. This group of kids, right here, has never been to this point (D-10 consolation contest and state berth) in their careers. So for them to be able to play like that and get there, it’s kudos to them,” the bespectacled Blaschak praised. “They have a never-give-up and never-give-in attitude, and that makes it extremely easy for me to coach.
“I’m a young coach. I’m thankful to have my dad (Matt) on the bench with me, as well as Coach (Tim) Wygant, so those guys are always there to help me,” Blaschak continued. “And Gary (Burke, his predecessor as Sailors’ skipper) did such a nice job for 18 years, had his hands in all the programs. So when I stepped in, these guys already knew what was goin’ on. ... Again, it’s easier to coach when those kids play hard and don’t give up.”
The win was not easy, however. There were 4 deadlocks and 13 lead changes.
Lakeview led 29-24 at halftime, but then the Sailors shot 2-for-9 during the 3rd period as the Big Reds rebounded for a 39-34 lead entering the final frame. Ricky Ladjevich lent 7 of his game-high 20 points and Casey Mild mustered 4 more Middlesex markers.
With 3:25 remaining West Middlesex managed a 40-35 margin before the Sailors surged. Brett Beith bucketed 4 points and Zack Doddo added a deuce, while Cole Thiec converted a pair of free throws.
Ultimately, Gavin Boggs brokered 4 consecutive free throws with 29.5 and 6.5 seconds remaining – the latter in a 1-and-1 bonus situation off his own steal. West Middlesex made 6 miscues through 3 periods, but a handful during the decisive final frame.
Leading Lakeview (17-9) were Beith’s 19 points, Doddo’s dozen, and Boggs’ 9-point, 7-rebound, 3-assist line. The Sailors shot just 14 for 33 from the floor (42.4 percent), but converted 19 of 21 free-throw attempts (90.4) – a similar script in Stoneboro a few weeks back in Lakeview’s 48-38 regular-season region win.
“Our big thing was just to get to the rim and score. It’s just about adjusting game after game. Against Wilmington, we were tryin’ to knock down our outside shots because Wilmington is just so darn big. Against Middlesex I said, ‘Listen, guys, we’ve gotta play from the inside-out,’ and we did just that.”
Like Lakeview, Middlesex (18-8) will move on to the state tourney as D-10’s fourth seed, though the Big Reds’ reign as Class 2A champion ended.
Ladjevich led Middlesex with an 9-for-15 shooting performance, while Mild mustered 15 points and handed out a handful of assists. Zach Long lent a team-high 7 rebounds and 4 points and 2 assists, while Kaz Hoffman had 3 assists. Senior standout Jake Bowen was in game-long personal-foul trouble, ultimately exiting 59 ticks into the 4th frame after only 4 points and 3 rebounds.
Middlesex made half of its 38 field-goal attempts (47.3), but the Big Reds got to the line just 7 times, sinking 4.
“You know what? Worse things can happen in life, right?” began Middlesex mentor Chad Mild. “I’m proud of my kids. We’ve battled all year, and we’ll be back. We’ve got life yet, play next Saturday.
“I can’t fault our effort, and that’s been our thing all year – our effort and our pride,” Coach Mild continued. “But a lot of times we beat ourselves with turnovers; we just don’t execute as we should, at times. The foul disparity, it is what it is. They knocked their’s down and we got to the line only seven times, so that was a big difference.”
Veteran mentor Mild has seen both sides during his 20-year tenure as his alma mater’s winningest cage coach. He’s had many clubs enjoying moments like Lakeview’s.
“Absolutely. That’s what makes high school basketball fun. Hopefully, both schools will do some damage in the state playoffs. Lakeview did what it had to do to beat us; played a very good game and were well-coached.” the gracious Mild concluded.
The mere mention of “Coach Garrett” brought Blaschak to tears, but he, almost inaudibly, admitted, “Absolutely” when asked if his grandfather would have been proud. – By Ed Farrell, Herald assistant sports editor.
• Sharpsville 66, Mercyhurst Prep 63 – At Meadville Area Senior High School, first-year Coach Matt Durisko’s Blue Devils (16-9) won another thriller in the D-10 playoffs as they rallied from a 20-5 deficit to advance to the PIAA playoffs.
Mercyhurst Prep (19-6) jumped out to a 20-5 lead after 8 minutes of play, but the Devils started chipping away at the lead. Sharpsville outscored the Lakers 17-11 in the 2nd quarter to cut the lead to 31-22 at halftime and held a 22-15 scoring advantage in the 3rd quarter to only trail by 2 points (46-44) heading to the 4th frame.
In the waning seconds, Luke Levis passed the ball to Max Messett who buried a three-pointer for the 66-63 win. The Devils outscored the Lakers 22-17 in the 4th quarter.
Levis led Sharpsville with 16 points, Jackson Doyle bucketed 15, Ja’Quay Hubbard scored a dozen, Messett finished with 10 points and Brayden Fry added 9 markers.
Matt Bengel (17 points), Griffin Herron (12), Nick Byerly (12), Anthony Cook (12) and Alex Miklinski (10) scored in double digits for Mercyhurst Prep.
Sharpsville beat Erie First Christian Academy, 81-80 in triple-overtime, in the D-10 quarterfinals and then dropped to the consolation game with a 52-46 loss to Fairview. Mercyhurst ousted Franklin, 71-61, in the quarterfinals and lost to Sharon, 62-47, in the semifinals.
The Lakers beat Sharpsville, 70-55, last season in the D-10 consy game when the Devils were coached by current Grove City mentor Chris Kwolek.
Sharpsville advances to play Seton-LaSalle, the 3rd seed out of District 7, next Saturday in the opening round of the PIAA playoffs. This is the first time the Blue Devils have advanced to the state playoffs since 2011.
District 10 Class 2A
MIDDLESEX 19 5 15 7 46
LAKEVIEW 14 15 5 15 49
WEST MIDDLESEX – C.Mild 6-2-3-15, Bowen 2-0-0-4, Hoffman 1-0-0-3, Long 1-2-4-4, Ladjevich 9-0-0-20, G.Mild 0-0-0-0, B.Smith 0-0-0-0. 3-pt. goals: Ladjevich 2, C.Mild 1, Hoffman 1. Totals: 19-4-7-46.
LAKEVIEW – Boggs 2-5-6-8, Miller 1-4-4-7, Doddo 4-3-4-12, Beith 7-5-5-19, Burke 0-0-0-0, Thiec 0-2-2-2, McIntire 0-0-0-0. 3-pt. goals: Miller 1, Doddo 1. Totals: 14-19-21-49.
District 10 Class 3A
SHARPSVILLE 5 17 22 22 66
MERCY. PREP 20 11 15 17 63
SHARPSVILLE – Messett 4-0-0-10, Fry 3-2-2-9, Breneman 0-0-0-0, Flaherty 1-0-0-2, Levis 6-4-7-16, Doyle 5-2-2-15, Joseph 1-0-0-2, Hubbard 5-2-5-12. 3-pt. goals: Doyle 3, Messett 2, Fry 1. Totals: 25-10-16-66.
MERCYHURST PREP – Bengel 7-2-3-17, Herron 4-4-4-12, Miklinski 4-0-0-10, N. Helsley 0-0-0-0, Krafty 0-0-0-0, Byerly 4-2-2-12, Cook 4-2-2-12. 3-pt. goals: Miklinski 2, Byerly 2, Cook 2, Bengel 1. Totals: 23-10-11-63.