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Bishop Canevin answers challenge, upsets Jeannette

Bishop Canevin boys basketball coach Rich Brennan had three defenses in mind as he prepared to play Jeannette in the WPIAL Class AA quarterfinals -- 3-2 zone, man-to-man or a "junk" scheme.

Brennan waited until just before tipoff to ask his players what they wanted to play.

"They said man-to-man," Brennan said. "They were up to the challenge."

Indeed, they were.

Playing with little fear, and using their usual patient halfcourt offense to balance their sound defensive play, the sixth-seeded Crusaders upset No. 3 Jeannette, 56-44, Saturday afternoon at Gateway High School.

The Crusaders, who won their eighth consecutive game, improved to 23-3 and will play No. 2 seed Beaver Falls (23-3) in the semifinals. They own the WPIAL's top defensive scoring average, yielding just 42.3 points per game.

The season isn't over for Jeannette. The Jayhawks (23-3) have qualified for the PIAA playoffs, which begin March 10.

Jeannette was seeking a second consecutive trip to the WPIAL semifinals and fifth semifinal appearance in school history.

"They're a good defensive team," said Jeannette coach Rick Klimchock, whose teams have been to the playoffs five years in a row and 13 of his 14 years as coach. "There weren't any easy shots today. Some people in the stands may not think so, but I thought we played well offensively. It was a battle of tempos."

Klimchock thought if Jeannette could score about 60 points, it would have a chance to win. The Jayhawks are the 17th team the Crusaders have held to 45 or fewer points.

"That's how we play," Brennan said. "We use a very deliberate style. Jeannette likes to run up and down the floor. I don't think they've seen a team like us this year."

Bishop Canevin held Jeannette sophomore Terrelle Pryor to 11 points, including just two in the first half. Pryor scored seven in the third, including a 3-pointer with two seconds left in the quarter, but fouled out with just under a minute to play in the game when he was called for a technical for grabbing the rim.

"We wanted to contain Pryor and holding him to 11 was big for us," Brennan said.

Junior guard Davonte Shannon led Jeannette with 15 points, 11 in the fourth quarter.

The Jayhawks never led, falling behind early as the Crusaders wasted little time dictating the pace of play. A methodical, around-the-horn offense helped set up open 3-pointers and push the Canevin lead to 10 on two occasions in the third quarter.

Bishop Canevin hit six 3-pointers and converted 26 of 34 free throws to hand Jeannette its second loss in 16 days.

The Crusaders made 15 of 18 free throws in the fourth quarter to seal the victory after Jeannette got to within three twice in the final period.

Jeannette made three of nine foul-shot attempts.

The Jayhawks managed to tie it once, 16-16, on one of three first-half 3-pointers by senior guard Greg Parker.

Bishop Canevin maintained a six-point lead until the fourth quarter, stretching the margin to 36-26 with 1:37 left in the third on a layup by Dom DiPaolo, who led the Crusaders with 14 points, all in the second half.

Kevin Smith added 10 and Antonio DiMaria, a transfer from Sewickley Academy, had nine.

Jeannette clawed back, using a 7-0 run to open the fourth quarter to get to within 36-33 with 6:35 left. Pryor hit a pull-up jumper and Shannon scored off a steal which was a result of a Parker reach-in.

DiPaolo hit a three to make it 39-33 before baskets by T.J. Burns and Shannon got the Jayhawks to within 40-37 with 5:12 left.

But Zach Gallagher, a transfer from Upper St. Clair, scored on a drive, and the Crusaders scored the rest of their points from the foul line to stretch the lead to 11, at 50-39.

"We knew coming in this game wouldn't be easy," Klimchock said. "We'll give the kids a day to clean out the cobwebs, then we'll get ready for the state playoffs."

Jeannette never has played in a WPIAL championship game in basketball.

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