Hampton pulls away from Montour for win
Bill Luther hasn't lost a WPIAL playoff game since his sophomore season, a confidence-building stretch that the Hampton senior helped extend Friday night.
Luther scored 25 points and caused endless match-up problems for Montour with his 6-foot-7 height during Hampton's victory, 52-28, in the quarterfinals of the WPIAL Class AAA boys basketball playoffs at North Allegheny. Hampton, as Luther well knows, is the defending WPIAL champion.
"Being the defending champ means a lot to us," said Luther, who switches between forward and guard. "We want to be there on Friday night at Palumbo Center."
That confidence was evident against No. 10 seed Montour.
"This group of kids has a lot of experience," Hampton coach Joe Lafko said. "This team played eight playoff games last year — four in the WPIAL and four in the states. You don't go through that experience without gaining confidence. I thought that was a difference tonight."
The victory keeps second-seeded Hampton on course to face top-seeded Chartiers Valley in the WPIAL championship game in a much-anticipated match-up. Five of the top eight seeds in Class AAA lost in the first round, and No. 8 seed Trinity joined them Friday night by losing to Chartiers Valley, 85-47.
The four remaining seeds are Nos. 1, 2, 11 and 12.
"Certainly, some of the top seeds were upset in that first round, but we're not looking ahead," Lafko said.
Hampton will play Tuesday against No. 11 seed West Mifflin in one semifinal; Chartiers Valley will play No. 12 West Allegheny in the other. Sites and times have not been announced.
Against Montour, Luther scored 13 of Hampton's 20 first-half points — including all nine of the Talbots' points in the first quarter. Hampton led, 9-2, after one, with Dillon Buechel scoring Montour's only basket with 4 minutes left in the quarter.
"You could see it in his eyes," Lafko said. "I think he's determined to put this team on his back and lead them down the stretch."
In the second, Luther found scoring help from Tim Donegan, who had seven points in the quarter. Combined, the two Hampton seniors accounted for all of Hampton's first-half points. Hampton led at halftime, 20-12, with Buechel and Austin Heter each scoring six points for Montour.
Luther paced Hampton's offense in the third quarter with eight more points, including 4 for 4 on free throws. The Talbots led, 35-23, after three, and then began the fourth with an 8-0 run that pushed their lead to 20.
The shorthanded Talbots were again without 6-foot-8 senior T.J. Brown, the tallest member of Hampton's towering front court that also includes 6-foot-5 Donegan. Brown will be eligible to return next week, Lafko said.
"We've have a couple guys who aren't feeling great, and T.J. was unable to play, so we all had to play our best," Luther said. "We got it done."