Thomas Jefferson boys gain section leverage wtih win over West Mifflin
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Thomas Jefferson coach Dom DeCicco had seen just about enough of West Mifflin's Ryan Maha.
Maha hit a trio of 3-pointers within a span of two minutes late during Tuesday's Section 4-AAA first-place showdown with Thomas Jefferson as West Mifflin raced back from a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit to climb within one more Maha 3-pointer of sending the game into overtime.
However, DeCicco made sure if the game was going to go to overtime, it wasn't going to be because of Maha.
“I was done. I wasn't going to let him beat us,” DeCicco said.
DeCicco instructed his two best defenders — Zach Schademan and Eric Fairman — to guard Maha during an inbounds play with 9.5 seconds left.
DeCicco had to endure a wide-open Derrick Fulmore 3-point attempt and an ensuing inbounds play under the basket that resulted in a turnover, but Maha never touched the ball again, and Thomas Jefferson took over sole possession of first place in the section with a 52-47 win over visiting West Mifflin.
“It was a typical Thomas Jefferson-West Mifflin game,” DeCicco said, “with it coming down to the last second.”
Thomas Jefferson (10-3, 6-0) got 11 points from Chase Winovich and 10 each from Joe Carroll, Zach Talley and Fairman.
Maha finished with 27 points on 10-of-15 shooting, including 5 of 9 from 3-point range, but no other teammate had more than six points.
“We have beaten some quality teams so far, and when we play well is when we get three guys into double figures,” West Mifflin coach Lance Maha said. “We have to play a little better around Ryan. It's not like we aren't capable of doing that.”
However, West Mifflin (9-3, 5-1) didn't play well, especially early on. The Titans turned the ball four of their first five possessions and nine times in the first quarter as TJ took a 17-9 lead.
West Mifflin got to within 25-22 at the half, but a 16-2 run late in the third quarter and into the fourth where the Titans were held scoreless for a span of 7:30 ballooned the Jaguars' lead to 46-32 with 3:36 left.
“I don't really think we played well,” Lance Maha said. “It wasn't lack of effort, it was that we just turned it over way too much and that's been our problem the entire year.”
DeCicco saw his team's second-half spurt a different way.
“It was the energy provided by Fairman,” DeCicco said. “He got deflections, steals and we got some transition baskets and defensively, we locked them down.”
That is until Ryan Maha exploded.
Maha scored five quick points, followed by a Cleve Randolph bucket and a Fulmore layup to make it 46-41. After Winovich made it 48-41, Maha hit a three to get it within 48-44.
Two TJ foul shots by Talley made it 50-44, and when Maha hit another three over Fairman with 13 seconds left, which was quickly followed by a TJ turnover, West Mifflin had the ball and a chance to send the game into overtime.
“(Maha) got the ball with 20 seconds left and made a huge three over me,” Fairman said. “That one was on me. When I came back to the huddle I said I wanted him for these last nine seconds and that I wasn't going to allow him to touch the ball.”
DeCicco made sure of that, instructing both Fairman and Schademan to guard Maha.
“I told the guys that it's on me if somebody else beats us,” DeCicco said. “We did all we could against him and he still scored 27, and he hit some shots that were challenged. We just couldn't let him have an opportunity at the end.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.