Unbeaten GCC boys roll past Jeannette
Greensburg Central Catholic's march toward perfection continued. With authority.
The Centurions jumped on rival Jeannette early and cruised to a 65-47 victory Friday night in the Section 1-2A finale.
Neal McDermott scored a game-high 26 points, and Ben Hertzog added 14 as No. 1-ranked GCC (20-0, 12-0), chasing the first undefeated regular season in program history, ran its section winning streak to 24.
Jeannette (11-10, 9-3), which steadied the ship to make the playoffs again after its first 0-4 start in more than 15 years, fell behind early and could not recover.
“Getting out early was a big key,” said McDermott, who made four 3-pointers. “We came out and didn't slow down.”
GCC, which has won eight consecutive section titles, has beaten the Jayhawks 10 straight times and is 15-1 against its county rival since 2010.
The Centurions are a head-turning 90-6 in section games under coach Greg Bisignani. The win also secured a seventh 20-win season under the coach/doctor's watch.
“We played great defense early on. It's something to limit them like that defensively,” Bisignani said. “It was a playoff atmosphere. We knocked down some shots and got some easy baskets on the fast break.”
It was 8-7 in the first quarter when the Centurions went on a 13-2 run to add to their advantage. McDermott hit back-to-back 3-pointers, and Hertzog's tip-dunk prompted a Jeannette timeout.
Jeannette missed layups and struggled against the Centurions' zone on its senior night.
Eric Hall threw a no-look pass to Tre Cunningham for an easy layup to cut it to 26-13, but GCC ended the first half on a 9-2 surge, with eight of the points coming from McDermott, for a 35-15 lead at the half.
“They came out on us quick,” Jeannette coach Adrian Batts said. “I don't know if it was this atmosphere or what, but we had dead legs. GCC is one of the best teams in the state. They get out and run. To beat them, they have to have a bad night.”
Mike Pompei finished with 16 points for the Jayhawks, battling an early triangle-and-two defense. He needs 46 points to reach 1,000 for his career.
“They were all over me,” Pompei said. “They came in ready to play.”
After Hertzog and McDermott made 3-pointers to start the third, Jeannette went on an 11-0 run to trim the margin to 41-26 as Mike Pompei hit two 3-pointers and Hall made one.
After the lead stretched to 23 early in the fourth, Jeannette no closer than 18 the rest of the way.
Another streak: GCC has won 24 straight regular-season games on the road.
The Centurions play at 4:30 p.m. Saturday against Obama Academy (12-6) in the Hoopfest at Penn Hills.
Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BillBeckner.