Sewickley Academy bounces Jeannette from WPIAL playoffs with monumental comeback
Nate Ridgeway made a layup with eight-tenths of a second remaining as Sewickley Academy stunned Jeannette, 69-68, in the second of two WPIAL Class A semifinal games Tuesday night at Chartiers Valley.
Down 68-67 with 9.6 seconds remaining, the Panthers went the length of the court before senior guard Scott Brown passed just beyond the arc, asked for the ball back and drove toward the hoop, dishing the ball to Ridgeway just before running into Jeannette forward Anthony Schmidt in the paint.
“Scotty made an amazing move to the hoop and had a great pass. I didn't even see it coming,” Ridgeway said. “I caught it somehow and finished. It was great aggressiveness by Scotty.”
Ridgeway, who scored 11 points, didn't see the pass coming because Brown only half-glanced at the senior before giving the ball up. Just about no one could have seen the Panthers' comeback transpiring midway through the fourth quarter.
Schmidt scored on a breakaway dunk with 4:32 remaining to give the No. 6 Jayhawks (18-7) a 62-41 lead, their largest of the game. Schmidt scored four of his team-high 25 points in the final four minutes, but he and Jeannette watched as a 30-9 run to build the 21-point lead was countered by Sewickley Academy's 28-6 run to close the game.
“I'm speechless. Our guys played with such heart. This was unbelievable,” Sewickley Academy coach Win Palmer said. “When I was down in Northern Virginia one time we were down 25 with like five minutes to go (and won), but this one was better.”
Sewickley Academy junior Chris Groetsch scored 11 of the Panthers' 29 fourth-quarter points, including several key shots down the stretch to get his team within striking distance. Groetsch completed a 3-point play with 2:24 left to cut Jeannette's lead to 64-58, hit two free throws to draw the Panthers within four and buried a 3-pointer with 52.6 seconds to go to trim his team's deficit to one point.
“Considering we were down 21 at one point, it feels great. We just turned up the defense, the intensity went up to another level and somehow we were able to pull that out,” said Groetsch, who finished with 14 points. “We were building momentum with each play. We were coming down, getting stops, going to the line. We could feel the momentum picking up for sure.”
Justin Pryor led the No. 2 Panthers (23-2) with 17 points. Schmidt had 25 for Jeannette, including nine in the fourth quarter. Swade Redman had 13 of his 16 points in a third quarter that turned a 32-28 halftime deficit into a 50-40 lead at the end of the third quarter for the Jayhawks.
Sewickley Academy advanced to play No. 4 Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic (17-8), which defeated No. 1 Monessen on a buzzer-beater in overtime in the first game at Chartiers Valley on Tuesday, in the Class AA finals Friday. Jeannette has qualified for the PIAA playoffs, but Tuesday's loss will sting for a while, coach Adrian Batts said.
“They're down, they're beat up, so you've got to be as positive as you can. But we beat ourselves,” Batts said. “We made some stupid fouls and took some stupid shots that just aren't good on our end after you build a great lead. We just stopped playing, stopped doing what got us the lead.”