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Alle-Kiski teams score upsets

| Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013, 6:00 p.m.
Valley News Dispatch
Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch Apollo-Ridge's Tre Tipton is hoisted into the air by Cody Billingsley after they defeated Jeannette in their WPIAL quarterfinal game at Plum High School on Saturday, February 23, 2013. Apollo-Ridge won the game, 53-49.

Call it Pandemonium at Plum.

Plum High School's packed-to-the-rafters gymnasium was the place for thrills on Saturday afternoon as a pair of Alle-Kiski basketball teams sent shock waves through the WPIAL Class AA basketball playoff bracket with upsets.

Unseeded at the start of the playoffs, Burrell and Apollo-Ridge played giant killers, with Burrell stunning No. 2 seed Greensburg Central Catholic, 67-63 in overtime, and Apollo-Ridge clipping No. 4 Jeannette, 53-49, in a memorable quarterfinal doubleheader.

Now, it's on to the Final Four for both teams.

Burrell (18-6) made 10 3-pointers and rallied from nine points down in the fourth quarter to force overtime against the vaunted Centurions (22-2), who had a 14-game winning streak snapped.

Burrell advances to the semifinals for the first time since 1979. It will play Quaker Valley (20-4), which upset No. 3 Seton-La Salle.

“We knew we could beat them — we didn't want this season to be done,” Burrell senior guard Alex White said.

Apollo-Ridge (18-7) rallied from a 24-6 first-quarter deficit to down Jeannette (18-5) and reach the semifinals for the first time since 1988.

A highlight was a near-halfcourt buzzer beater by sophomore guard Tre Tipton at the end of the third quarter.

“This is amazing,” Tipton said. “I am blown out of the water right now.”

Apollo-Ridge also knocked off the No. 5 seed, Sto-Rox, in the first round. The Vikings move on to play No. 1 Beaver Falls (21-3) in the semis.

“This has been a blast,” Apollo-Ridge coach Matt Gourley said. “Hopefully, we can keep it rolling.”

Burrell and Apollo-Ridge are from the same Section (1-AA), considered by some to be less strong than others at the start of the playoffs.

“Section 1's not so bad now, is it?” Burrell coach Rob Niederberger said. “We can play some, too.”

With the wins, Burrell and Apollo-Ridge both secured spots in the PIAA state playoffs.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total media. He can be reached at 724-224-4689 or bbeckner@tribweb.com.

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