Saturday, February 16, 2013

Tough end for California boys

It was a tough end of the season for the California boys basketball, the kind that's tough to watch, the kind that's obviously much tougher to endure.

A Section 5-AA title. Scoring 70 points a game. Crushing most teams. All contributed to the thought that the Trojans had practically already made it to the WPIAL Class AA quarterfinals ... then this, a 56-50 loss to Brentwood.

Free throws didn't fall. Michael Kish had his way inside to the tune of 20 points and 25 rebounds. Turned out to be an abrupt end to California's season.

"I didn't expect this, to be honest with you," senior guard Tanner Huffman told me after the game. "I wanted to win the section, but I thought it was going to be tough; Brownsville and Charleroi are both tough teams. When we won the section, I thought, 'This is a great thing. We might be able to do something.' Then we got matched up with Brentwood. I've been watching them on film, I played AAU with a couple of their boys -- Kish and (Jason) Pilarski, their guard.

"I thought they were going to be much bigger than us. I thought we were going to have to push it, make them run a little bit. But they still hurt us inside."

I talked with Brentwood coach Dave Mislan after the game about his impressions of California and how he went about defending them. Brentwood did what I thought was the best anyone has done at containing Huffman and Fisher, held to 12 and 24 points, respectively.

"I figured even we can control the guards -- we didn't do a great job on (Brian) Fisher, but we did a great job on Huffman," Mislan said. We had a bunch of rebounds, and we need 'em. We knew to keep up with their pace, because they shoot pretty quick on offense."

If there's one thing we learned today, it's that Section 4-AA was tougher than Section 5-AA. Charleroi (second, 5-AA) lost to Bishop Canevin (third, 4-AA); California (first, 5-AA) fell to Brentwood (fourth, 4-AA); Jefferson-Morgan (T-fourth, 5-AA) was blown out by Wash High (second, 4-AA); Beth-Center (T-fourth, 5-AA) lost big to Burrell (T-first, 1-AA); and Brownsville (third, 5-AA) lost to Northgate (fourth, 6-AA).

Here's a look at what happened today:


Jefferson-Morgan 29, Eden Christian 25:The Jefferson-Morgan girls overcame a four-point halftime deficit to earn a rare postseason victory for the Rockets, 29-25, over Eden Christian Academy in a WPIAL Class A preliminary round game Saturday afternoon at Chartiers Valley. Kayla Yorko and Katie Shaffer each scored eight points to lead the Rockets. Jefferson-Morgan held the Warriors (12-11) to two points in the third quarter.

West Greene 50, Clairton 26:Madison Raber had 25 points and 15 rebounds, Alyssa Raber added 13 points and 14 rebounds, and West Greene won a playoff game for the second consecutive year, 50-26, in the WPIAL Class A preliminary round at West Allegheny High School. West Greene (13-9) gets the No. 16 seed and will play No. 1 Vincentian Wednesday, site and time to be determined.

Quigley 81, California 38:The 13th-seeded Trojans might have been on the wrong end of an 81-38 rout, but California senior Courtnee McMasters scored 18 points to become the second player in school history and the sixth in the area this season to reach 1,000. She did it by making a pair of free throws with 2:56 left in the third quarter. “It’s amazing,” McMasters said. “It’s a childhood dream to accomplish it.”

South Fayette 61, Freeport 35:South Fayette made eight three-pointers en route to a 61-35 victory over Freeport Saturday in a WPIAL Class AAA preliminary-round game at North Allegheny. Caitlin McLuckie and Shannon Gillespie had 12 points apiece. Both had a pair of treys. So, too, did Kristen Hardt and Min Wells. South Fayette will play No. 13 Central Valley Wednesday.

St. Joseph 45, Avella 30:Avella was without Olivia English and Sunny Liggett, and Alexandria Barr was lost to a hand injury, as Avella suffered a 45-30 loss to St. Joseph in a WPIAL Class A girls first-round game. Kenna Drazich led Avella, the Section 3-A champion and No. 5 seed, with 18 points, but the Eagles closed the year at 13-9.


Burrell 64, Beth-Center 34:Cole Bush scored 23 points and Burrell rolled to a 64-34 victory over Beth-Center in a Class AA preliminary round game at West Allegheny. Adam Walters and Dean Holt each scored 10 points for Beth-Center.

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