Beaver able to hold off Greensburg Central
The Greensburg Central Catholic girls got into a deep hole early but nearly made it all the way back.
Trailing by 18 twice in the second quarter, the Centurions cut the deficit to one late in the game, only to see Beaver hit some clutch shots in the final 97 seconds to hold on for a 57-51 victory.
The Class AA quarterfinal win gave the Bobcats (18-5) a berth in the WPIAL semifinals Tuesday against Jeannette at a site and time to be determined. Greensburg Central Catholic (19-2) has qualified for the PIAA playoffs and will play March 12.
The Bobcats came out with a hot shooting hand, building the lead to 26-8 and 28-10 early in the second period as the Centurions employed a triangle-and-two defense.
"They were hot, and we were cold, and that's what made it much worse for us," Centurions coach Don Favero said. "They stayed in structure and were listening to our coaches, so we figured if we were down by 10 or 12 at halftime, we'd have a shot."
Favero was going for his second WPIAL girls basketball title to go with the 1985 Deer Lakes Class AAA championship.
The Centurions only scored four points off the first seven Bobcats' turnovers but later were able to take advantage of the Beaver miscues.
Junior Tess Zufall tallied seven points late in the half, as GCC started its comeback. Her foul shot with three-tenths of a second left in the half cut the Beaver lead to 34-23.
But trouble loomed for Beaver. Leading scorer Kendra Pilarski suffered a knee injury in the second quarter after scoring nine points. Pilarski iced her knee in the second half and later wore a brace. The extent of the injury is unknown until the knee is examined this morning.
"We were all really upset coming in at halftime, but our coach said we had this under control, and we'd all have to step up," Senior guard Paige Onuska said.
A 3-pointer by Alex Meyer with 3:15 left in the third period cut the GCC deficit to single digits, 40-31. A steal by Emily Kelly led to a basket by Laura McCauley with 2:47 left in the game to bring the Centurions to within 50-47.
On the ensuing possession, Kelly tied up Shelby Lloyd under the GCC hoop with the possession arrow favoring the Centurions. McCauley's subsequent basket made it 50-49 Beaver with 1:48 to go.
But Onuska came up big 11 seconds later, scoring a basket while in a crowd from close range. She added a foul shot and later hit two more free throws with 48 seconds remaining to ice the victory.
"We have a lot of respect for Beaver, but we did not anticipate Paige shooting as well as she did," Favero said.
Onuska led the way with 20 points.
"I told her at halftime that Kendra's going to be out, and it was her turn to be a leader of this team and take over her role," Beaver coach Greg Huston said. "She hit her shots and made her foul shots, and that's why we won the game."
McCauley finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds, while Zufall added 18.
"We have an opportunity to come back in the state tournament," Favero said. "Our shooting's not been what it was before, but the energy and the effort's there."
Greensburg Central shot 42 percent from the floor but nailed just three of 12 3-point attempts.