SEWICKLEY ACADEMY HOLDS OFF LATE CHARGE BY ECC
|March 12, 2004 - PIAA Class A Boys' Quarterfinals at Clarion University|
By Chris Rossetti
CLARION – Oh so close.
The Elk County Catholic boys’ basketball team came within a breath of pulling the upset that going into the night most thought was unthinkable.
But in the end, the Crusaders fell to WPIAL champion Sewickley Academy 52-49 in the PIAA boys’ basketball quarterfinals Friday night at Clarion University’s Tippin Gym.
ECC had a chance to win the game with 9.1 seconds left, but Jesse Bosnik’s open three-pointer from the top of the key with the Crusaders trailing 51-49 rimmed out. Sewickley then hit 1 of 2 free throws with 2.5 seconds left, and a desperation three from about a foot behind the arc by Adam Simbeck was air balled.
The Crusaders rallied from a 10-point deficit in the final 1:36 to get as close as a point before coming up short.
"In the second half, we did the things we needed to do," ECC head coach Aaron Straub said. "It just took a little too long for us to recognize that we could do them."
ECC benefited from poor free-throw shooting by the Panthers in the final 1:36 and a technical foul on Corry Diethorn with 1:36 left.
Sewickley Academy went 3 of 13 from the foul line in the final 1:36 allowing ECC to climb back into the game.
"We are usually a good free-throw shooting team," Sewickley coach Win Palmer said. "But we had to go through certain experiences like playing in an environment like tonight. It was like a college environment tonight."
The Panthers were also hurt by a technical foul on Diethorn with 1:36 left. Diethorn had just finished a slam dunk that gave the Panthers a 49-39. But he was called for a technical foul for unsportsmanlike conduct after apparently staring down ECC following the dunk.
ECC didn’t take immediate advantage with Marcus Genevro hitting one of two free throws to make it 49-40. Bosnik then missed a shot, but Sewickley turned the ball over. Bosnik then got a layup to cut the lead to 49-42 with 1:13 remaining.
Sewickley Academy then went into self-destruct mode at the foul line.
First the Panthers’ Matt Palmer missed the front-end of a one-and-one with about 1:08 left. Sewickley’s Diethorn got the offensive rebound and was fouled. He preceded to miss two straight free throw, but once again the Panthers came up with the offensive board, this time by Ryan Bradford. Bradford did a little better making 1 of 2 shots, but the 1 of 5 performance left Sewickley up 50-42.
Another basket by Bosnik closed the gap to 50-44, and Palmer missed two more free throws for the Panthers. Bosnik then smartly took an open lane to the basket for a layup to cut the lead to 50-46 with 34 seconds left.
Palmer continued to struggle from the charity stripe bricking two free shots, and Bosnik brought the crowd into a frenzy when he hit a three-pointer from the top of the key with 25 seconds left cutting the deficit to a single point at 50-49.
Amir Johnson then hit the front end of a two-shot foul with 17 seconds left but missed the second one.
ECC then got the ball down the court and found Bosnik open at the top of the key, but his three-pointer was just a little too strong.
Diethorn got the rebound for Sewickley and was fouled with 2.5 seconds left. He missed the first free throw, but following a Panther time-out connected on the second one to give Sewickley a 52-49 lead.
Sewickley then called another time-out, and out of the break ECC through a halfcourt pass to Simbeck. Simbeck took a dribble and got a contested look from above the arc. The shot, however, was way short allowing the Panthers to escape with the win.
Early on it looked like Sewickley Academy was going to blow ECC out of the building. The Panthers led 17-9 at the end of the first quarter and built the lead to 23-11 with 4:20 left in the first half.
"Both teams were nervous at the start of the game," Palmer said. "I thought we settled down first."
But ECC ended the half on a 4-0 run to close to within eight points, 23-15 at halftime.
"We got a little tired in the second quarter," Palmer said.
If Sewickley was tired in the second quarter, maybe they went to sleep at the start of the third quarter as ECC started the quarter on a 15-4 run to take its only lead of the game at 30-27.
"In the third quarter, they switched offenses," Palmer said. "Everything we pride our selves on is our defense. But we were not crystal clear on what their purpose (on offense) was."
Late in the quarter, Sewickley came back to life and went on a 6-0 run to end the quarter with all six points coming from Bradford.
"Ryan is a tremendous player," Palmer said. "He brings energy to the court."
Sewickley then continued to build the lead throughout the fourth quarter and seemed to put the game away on Diehthorn’s dunk.
Bosnik, a freshman, led all scorers with 21 points, while Simbeck added 11. ECC hit five three’s on the night, but was just 1 of 9 from behind the arc in the first quarter and three of the three’s came in the fourth quarter. Bosnik was the fourth-quarter hero scoring 14 of his points in the quarter.
Diethorn led Sewickley with 18 points, while Bradford had 15 and Antonio DiMoria eight.
Sewickley Academy now faces District 9’s runner-up Johnsonburg in the Western Finals Tuesday at a site and time to be determined.
"Johnsonburg is a very good ball team," Palmer said. "They have some nice big men inside. That No. 12 (Calvin Grumley) is a really nice guard, and No. 35 (Dan Zeigler) just gets to the basketball. We have a tape on them, and we saw them play tonight. We will be more prepared than we were tonight. We didn’t have anything on Elk. We didn’t know what they did. But we knew it was going to be a close game."
SEWICKLEY ACADEMY 52, ELK COUNTY CATHOLIC 49
Score by Quarter
ECC 9 6 15 19 – 49
Sewickley Academy 17 6 10 19 – 52
ECC – 49
Doug Straub 2 0-0 4, Jesse Bosnik 8 2-2 21, Marcus Genevro 1 1-2 4, Steve Thorwart 0 0-0 0, Mike Prechtl 1 0-0 2, Steve Dellaquila 1 0-0 3, Nick Bojalad 1 0-0 2, Adam Simbeck 4 3-4 11, Tony Lecker 1 0-0 2. Totals 19 6-8 49.
SEWICKLEY ACADEMY – 52
Antonio DiMoria 3 2-2 8, Matt Palmer 0 0-6 0, George Raftis 0 1-3 1, Sean Hickey 2 1-1 5, Corey Diethorn 8 2-5 18, Amir Johnson 2 1-2 5, Ryan Bradford 5 5-7 15, Terence Pratt 0 0-0 0, Luke Brocks 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 12-26 52.
THREE-POINTERS: ECC 5 (Bosnik 3, Genevro, Prechtl).