Thursday, February 7, 2013

Pregame: Peters Township (5-8, 8-12) at Canon-McMillan (5-8, 10-11), 7:30 p.m.

After all the craziness in this section, after all the theoretical tiebreakers, the late games, the guessing about what it could come down to, we're left with this: win and get in.

Upper St. Clair (12-1), Bethel Park (10-3) and Mt. Lebanon (7-6) are all in, seeded first through third, regardless of what happens Friday. Tonight's winner, thanks to Trinity's 62-60 victory over Moon Thursday, gets the No. 4 seed.

Last meeting: Peters Township won, 59-49, on Jan. 15. Gabe Pritz had 23 points and 10 rebounds. Dakota Norton finished with 15 points. Peters Township came back from a 20-16 deficit at halftime.

Lots of free throws, too. Peters Township was 26 of 39 from the line (seriously, looks like a Peyton Manning stat line), and Canon-Mac was 13 of 19. That happens tomorrow, and we might all miss birthdays. Jake Cadez led the Big Macs with 20 points, Brett Haney 16.

What's left: Peters Township has a non-section game Monday at Fox Chapel -- at least it's on the schedule. Canon-Mac will be done or resting for the playoffs, should it pull out a win.

Streaks: Peters Township has lost three of four ... which comes after a three-game winning streak. Canon-Mac has lost three in a row.

Coming in: Both lost close games. Peters Township dropped a 42-41 decision at Baldwin Tuesday when Arnes Bajgora made two free throws with four-tenths of a second left to push the Highlanders ahead. Pritz did eclipse 1,000 career points, though there wasn't much of a celebration afterward.

Mt. Lebanon's Justin David made a three-pointer from the left wing with 2 seconds left to down Canon-Mac, 49-46.

Analysis: I've seen Canon-Mac four times this season, Peters Township three, though I didn't cover the previous meeting. Wish I had.

It will be interesting to see how Canon-Mac matches up with Pritz, whose 6-5 and has a vastly improved inside game. Big Macs guard Brett Haney, meanwhile, can shoot, and hot-shooting guards have given the Indians trouble. (Trinity's Christian Koroly dropped 24, with four three-pointers, during a 60-46 Hillers win 13 days ago.)

I'm guessing the task of stopping Pritz will fall to Seth Combs, though he's giving up two or three inches.

An X-factor here could be three-pointers for Peters Township. When I covered the Indians against Trinity, Peters Township was getting good looks from beyond the arc; they simply weren't falling -- two for 25, to be exact.

If those go, that could be significant. At the same time, Canon-Mac has some pretty nice depth, guys who can slash, rebound and do a lot of things inside: Jake Cadez, Sam Bohn, Combs and Evan Beach. All nice complements to Haney.

My pick: Peters Township has been on the wrong end of a ton of close games this season --  nine of 12 losses by single digits, an average of 9.7 points per game -- and I think the Indians finally get a close win here.

Remember, they brought pretty much everyone back from last season, 'cept for PG Trent McPherson (moved to West Virginia). Here's where having that experience -- and Pritz -- pays off.

See you out there.

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