Jefferson-Morgan’s playoff hopes looked dire as the clock was winding down Friday night when the Rockets trailed California in a Section 5-AA matchup.
With Jefferson-Morgan trailing, 52-50, Rockets junior Rece Henneman threw up a desperation half-court shot. As the shot propelled through the air of the gymnasium, Jefferson-Morgan’s playoff hopes rested on a miracle.
The ball went through the net and the Rockets stormed the court as the stunning comeback came to fruition with a 53-52 win. The victory puts Jefferson-Morgan (4-4, 7-8) into fourth place in the section behind Brownsville, Frazier and Charleroi. Defeating California puts the Rockets a game ahead of the Trojans at a time Jefferson-Morgan needed it the most.
The Rockets have three section games in the next ten days with a road game against Brownsville on Tuesday and back-to-back home games against Beth-Center and Frazier. They could not afford to be swept by California when the Trojans are the one team that could prevent Jefferson-Morgan from reaching the Class AA WPIAL Playoffs.
Henneman finished the critical win with 23 points and his performance this season has been as consistent as any player in Washington or Greene County. The junior is averaging 20.2 points per game, which will certainly insert him in the Observer-Reporter Player of the Year discussion. Time and time again, he has risen to the occasion for the Rockets, who lost five of their first seven games to start the season.
· Section 4-AAAA’s matchups on Friday night saw two teams pull upsets to inch closer to the playoffs. Canon-McMillan defeated Bethel Park, 63-66, behind the play of Alex Hammers and Britton Beachy. The Blackhawks made a comeback with a 33-point fourth quarter, but clutch free throw shooting by the Big Macs (5-2, 9-5) sank their rival.
Three days after Peters Township lost a heartbreaker to the Big Macs, the Indians were led by J.C. Brush’s heroics to walk away with a victory over Mt. Lebanon. Brush hit the game-winner with four seconds remaining. During a season where both Canon-McMillan and Peters Township have faced adversity, they have produced clutch wins over tough opponents in a brutal section.
The Big Macs will now face Baldwin before having back-to-back contests against Upper St. Clair, while Peters Township has the luxury of facing Moon and Trinity this week.
· Carmichaels had a critical bounce-back win over Mapletown with Brandon Lawless paving the way (another candidate for Player of the Year). He scored 37 points to lead the Mikes to a 69-42 victory over Mapletown. After Carmichaels lost to Monessen on Tuesday night, head coach Don Williams stressed to his team that while the scoreboard displayed a loss, they had nothing to be disappointed about. The season is still far from over and to believe in themselves. The message stuck for the Mikes, who hold onto second place in Section 3-A.