Freshman DeGregorio sparks Hampton in semifinal victory
This was a gym that Isaac DeGregorio surely knew well, a place where his father Dave coached for years.
Maybe that's why he seemed so comfortable.
A capacity crowd crammed into North Allegheny's gym Tuesday night for a semifinal that would unnerve many freshmen. Yet DeGregorio showed his coach's-son savvy and his 3-pointers keyed a second-half rally that let No. 5 seed Hampton defeat No. 1 Mars, 61-59, in the WPIAL Class 5A playoffs.
The victory carries Hampton into a finals matchup with Moon at 9 p.m. Friday, at Petersen Events Center.
“The first half, I was 0 for 3, 0 for 4, 0 for something,” DeGregorio said. “My dad said, ‘Hey, this is what you've worked for all year — to get to that championship game. Hit your 3s and do your job.' ”
In the third quarter, the 5-foot-9 reserve made three 3-pointers in a minute and turned a four-point deficit into a one-point lead that Hampton never lost. He finished with 11 points, but also had a steal and an assist in Hampton's go-ahead run.
“He made some really big shots,” said Hampton coach Joe Lafko, who had former NA coach Dave DeGregorio as an assistant. “You can't — how are you going to describe that? He just made some unbelievable big shots in the second half. I can't even find the words to describe that.”
This semifinal had that affect.
Mars star Robby Carmody led all scorers with 32 points and had the ball with 5.2 seconds left after DeGregorio made one of two free throws to lead 61-58. But as Carmody neared midcourt, DeGregorio strategically fouled him to protect Hampton's three-point lead with 1.8 seconds.
Carmody banked in a 3-pointer after the whistle, a shot that referees waved off. His coach and father, Rob Carmody, argued for the basket without success.
“My interpretation is, when you jump stop and you're fouled, if you continue up into a shot it's an and-one,” coach Rob Carmody said, “whether it's 2-feet under the basket or from half-court. Robby is strong enough. I thought he jump-stopped, got fouled and finished the play.
“But the refs did a fantastic job. It would have been one of those fairy tale things. You bank in a 3, and now you get to go to the foul line with a second left.”
That call wasn't why Mars lost, the Planets coach insisted. Mars led 12-4 in the first quarter and built a 15-point lead in the first half. Antonio Ionadi led Hampton back with 21 points, including a 3-pointer just before halftime that cut Mars' lead to 31-25.
At times, Mars didn't defend the arc well enough, Rob Carmody said. Hampton hit six 3-pointers, three each by Ionadi and DeGregorio.
“In games like this, they're good enough with a hand in their face,” he said. “You don't need to give them 15 points on wide-open shots. You can't expect to win.”