California outlasts Brownsville, 76-72
When California and Brownsville get together on the hardwood, you know the game will be filled with the passion and intensity that only an intense rivalry will provide.
Wednesday was no exception as the Trojans knocked off Brownsville in Section 5 AA before an overflow crowd, 76-72.
Electricity was in the air from the time fans filed into the packed gymnasium, and the crowd was buzzing even before the game began.
The Trojans (16-2, 11-0) and Falcons (13-5, 8-3) battled on even terms for the first half, going into the dressing room tied at 33-33.
The Falcons got a strong effort from the inside work of Christian Floyd, who scored 10 of his 16 points in the first period.
California's Jake Columbus sank a short jumper with five seconds left in the half to tie the game.
The Falcons scored two quick baskets in the second half to give them their biggest lead of the game, 38-33. The Trojans battled back on consecutive buckets by Tanner Huffman and Austin Wingo to pull to 38-37.
With 3:17 left in the quarter Clements knocked down a pair of free throws and Huffman scored five straight to give the Trojans a 50-44 lead. Brian Fisher finished the period with a bucket to give California a 54-46 lead going into the fourth.
Huffman and Fisher combined for five points to open the fourth and give California its largest lead of the game at 59-46.
However, the Falcons weren't ready to throw in the towel. Brownsville kept chipping away at Cal's lead behind the play of Josh Mapstone. The Falcons got back within reach on a bucket from Mike Murdock and two free throws from Mapstone to make it 60-54.
After that Huffman went coast-to-coast to push the score to 62-54. Cole Novotney answered with a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 63-57.
Mapstone scored with 1:42 remaining to pull Brownsville to as close as it would get down the stretch, 69-67.
Mapstone finished with 11 in the quarter and 17 for the game.
Huffman and Fisher scored all of the Trojans' points in the fourth quarter. Huffman scored 14, including 8-of-10 from the free throw line and Fisher had eight.
For the game Huffman scored a game-high 31 points and Fisher added 22.
“Great game!” California coach Phil Pergola exclaimed after the contest. “We shot well from the free throw line down the stretch.
“We got a little hesitant for a while, which was my fault. Then we told Tanner there was too much pressure on him to hold it (in the fourth quarter) and we told him to go to the hole.”
Cole Novotney and Nick Despot chipped in with 10 each for Brownsville.
California travels to West Greene for a 7:30 p.m. contest on Friday. Brownsville goes to Beth-Center.
Charleroi 72, W. Greene 22
The Cougars (11-6, 9-2) hammered the winless Pioneers (0-16, 0-10) in Section 5 AA.
Senior Steve Iacovino came off the bench to lead Charleroi with a double-double, 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Also hitting for double figures for Charleroi were Matt Indorante with 14 points and Jim Diaz and Dakota Moorer with 10 each.
Charleroi hosts Frazier Friday.
Steel Valley 86, BV Area 37
The Ironmen (11-6, 5-4) took a 25-10 lead in the first quarter of the Section 4 AAA game and were never in trouble.
BVA (2-15, 1-8) got 10 points from Ryan Thomas while SV was led by Dom Keyes with 24 points.
Yough 73, Southmoreland 62
The Cougars (7-12, 4-6) won the Section 3 AAA contest as Dom Miele scored 22 points, Josh Sterner 17 and Ben D'Amico 13.
In addition, Miele had a game-high 15 rebounds while Sterner dished off 11 assists.
Southmoreland (0-17, 0-10) got 17 points from Zac Black.
GirlsE. Forward 57, West Mifflin 48
The Lady Warriors (18-1, 10-0) clinched a tie for the Section 4 AAA title with the win as Natalie Fekula had 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Teammates Alison Pastore (12) and Olivia Barkley (11) also scored in double figures.
West Mifflin (7-11, 6-4) got 14 points from Ciara Patterson.
Naz Victoria is a freelance writer.