KEYSTONE CLAMPS DOWN ON WESTMONT-HILLTOP TO MOVE INTO PIAA QUARTERFINALS

March 10, 2004 - PIAA Class AA Boys' Second Round at DuBois High School

By Chris Rossetti

DuBOIS – They say defense wins championship. Keystone proved that and took another step in the PIAA Class AA boys’ basketball playoffs by playing shutdown defense on Westmont-Hilltop in a 47-35 win Wednesday night at DuBois High School.

The Panthers now play Beaver Falls in the PIAA quarterfinals Saturday at a time and place to be determined. It is the farthest Keystone has gone in the state playoffs since the 1998 team led by Tom and Andy Pore reached the quarterfinals in Class A.

"It was all about defense," Keystone head coach Greg Heath said. "I thought we did a good job executing our game plan and not allowing them to beat us up inside. On the offensive end, we were patient and had some long possession while working for good shots."

Keystone (24-4) held Westmont-Hilltop without a basket and to just six points in a span of 11:06 between the end of the second quarter and the start of the fourth quarter. In fact, the Panthers held the Hilltoppers to just two made baskets in the second and third quarters while limiting them to 2 of 13 shooting (15.4 percent) in the two quarters combined.

Heath didn’t really have any explanation for the tough defense that has become a staple of this Keystone team only that his players played hard.

"Our guys just go out and compete every night," Heath said. "That is why we are successful. We really wanted to use a lot of weak-side help tonight (on their big men). We used a lot of zone principles tonight."

Keystone’s defense helped it turn an early second quarter eight-point deficit into a late third-quarter eight-point lead thanks to a 20-4 run.

Westmont-Hilltop had gone up 15-7 with 6:42 left in the first half thanks to a fade away jumper by 6-foot-5 senior center Jon Mahler that capped an 8-0 Hilltopper run.

Following the basket, Heath called time-out. After the time-out a rejuvenated Keystone club came out and went on an 11-0 run to take an 18-15 lead on a Billy Colwell basket with 1:18 left in the half.

"In the time-out, we talked about being more patient on offense," Heath said. "We also reminded them to keep their emotions in check on defense and to do what we were suppose to do on the defensive end. We got it done (defensively) after that."

Westmont-Hilltop did get to within a point, 18-17, at halftime thanks to a basket by Joe Ozbold with 57 seconds left in the half. But it was the only basket the Hilltoppers scored between the 6:42 mark of the second quarter and the 5:51 mark of the fourth quarter.

In the second half, Keystone came out and went on an 11-3 run in the third quarter to take a 29-20 lead at the end of the quarter.

But Westmont-Hilltop wasn’t done using a 5-1 run at the start of the fourth quarter to cut the Keystone lead to 30-25 on a Mahler basket, the first for his team in the second half, on an offensive put back with 5:51 left in the game.

The Hilltoppers still trailed by just six points after an old-fashion three-point play by Mahler with 3:07 left, but Keystone got quick baskets from Sam Swartzfager and Buck Neely to take a 40-30 lead with 2:29 left. Those baskets kick started a game-ending 11-5 run for Keystone.

Heath led Keystone with 15 points, while Swartzfager added 13.

Mahler led all scorers with 22 scoring 62.9 percent on his team’s points.

KEYSTONE 47, WESTMONT-HILLTOP 35

Score by Quarter

Keystone 7 11 11 18 – 47

Westmont-Hilltop 11 6 3 15 – 35

KEYSTONE – 47

Sam Swartzfager 5 3-5 13, Cole Bowser 1 4-8 6, Buck Neely 3 1-2 7, Garrett Heath 5 2-3 15, A.J. O’Neil 1 0-0 2, Billy Colwell 1 0-1 2, Derek Duffee 0 0-0 0, Cody Summerville 1 0-0 2. Totals 17 10-19 47.

WESTMONT-HILLTOP – 35

Jeff Mosbrucker 0 0-0 0, Jasen Peters 1 0-0 2, Jon Mahler 8 6-7 22, Michael Thompson 1 0-0 3, Brian Koch 1 3-5 6, Joe Ozbold 1 0-0 2, Andrew Rudnik 0 0-0 0. Totals 12 9-12 35.

THREE-POINTERS: Keystone 3 (Heath 3). Westmont-Hilltop 2 (Thompson, Koch).