Top-ranked GCC holds off Class 3A Shady Side Academy in regular-season finale
Neal McDermott had a bloodied scratch below his eye. Jack Liberatore limped off with a tweaked right ankle. Ben Hertzog was visibly frustrated after fouling out.
This was a tough one for Greensburg Central Catholic players, and it left some of them cringing, but they also walked off the floor with unmistakable confidence — and perfect smiles.
Class 2A No. 1 Greensburg Central Catholic capped its first undefeated regular season by holding off 3A No. 5 Shady Side Academy, 57-50, on Monday night in Carbon.
The Centurions take a 22-0 mark into the playoffs.
“We never doubted we were out of this game,” said McDermott, who scored 22 points. “Shady Side is a good team, but we finished the way we always do.”
Liberatore left with 5:16 in the third quarter but returned. Hertzog later fouled out.
Shady Side was getting all the rebounds and forcing the Centurions to play its game.
GCC forward Dom Eisaman said he didn't want to lose in his final home game.
“This was a great atmosphere,” Eisaman said. “We have a bigger intentions, but this was a great win.”
Said Liberatore: ““For us seniors, this is the last time on our home floor. We couldn't lose this game.”
Shady Side (16-6), the last team to beat GCC in section play three years ago (the teams are in new sections now), got 24 points from Etai Groff and took a 45-43 lead with about three minute to go. But GCC rallied for some late-game heroics to stay perfect.
Lulled into a halfcourt set, the Centurions passed around the key before McDermott spun and dished to a wide-open Eisaman, who calmly sank a 3-pointer from the wing with 2:37 left. On the ensuing Indians' possession, Eisaman came up with steal near midcourt and went the distance for a layup to make it 48-45.
Groff scored to cut it to 51-48, but McDermott threw a baseball pass to Eisaman, who couldn't convert but Alvin Ross grabbed the rebound and scored for a 57-48 advantage with 30.6 seconds left.
“They took away our fast break,” GCC coach Greg Bisignani said. “They played us really tough. Our seniors made some big plays for us.”
Groff kept it close for Shady Side early, scoring 11 first-half points as the Indians took a 25-22 deficit into halftime.
The lead never got above five in the first half. The Indians tried to slow down GCC with a zone, and kept the Centurions out of the paint for the most part.
GCC put the game away with late free throws. For the game, the Centurions made 25 of 33 attempts, including 11 of 15 in the fourth.
McDermott made 9 of 12 foul shots. Shady Side made 2 of 10 for the game.