Seneca Valley routs No. 5 Central Catholic
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Rather than take a playoff approach, Seneca Valley coach Victor Giannotta treated this like just another section game.
And his Raiders won by 31 points.
“This validates how good our section is,” Giannotta said of Saturday's 72-41 victory over No. 5 Central Catholic in the first round of the WPIAL Class AAAA basketball playoffs at North Hills High School.
This was a fourth-place team from one section beating the champion of another, but the coach insisted that not all sections are equal. The league's pairings committee respected Section 3 enough to award the bracket's first three seeds to New Castle, North Allegheny and Hampton. But fourth-place Seneca Valley (16-7), seeded No. 12, proved the section's talent runs even deeper.
“Frankly, there's no doubt in my mind that anyone in our section would have made the playoffs in any other section,” Giannotta said. “Our top three teams and us would vie for a section title in any other section.”
Central Catholic (16-6) was the Section 2 champion, one season after leaving Section 3, and entered the playoffs with an eight-game winning streak.
The Raiders approached playing their old section opponent the way they've prepared all season.
“Nothing changed,” Giannotta said. “No practice changed, no preparation changed.”
No. 4 Upper St. Clair (20-3) awaits Seneca Valley in the quarterfinals.
R.J. McCauley scored 26 points and Easton Bazzoli added 22 for Seneca Valley, which began with a 7-0 run and never trailed. McCauley scored 10 of his team's first 15 points.
The Raiders used their disruptive zone defenses to force Central Catholic into turnovers.
“It was important to get ahead,” McCauley said. “We played great defense, and great defense led to great offense.”
Seneca Valley held a 38-16 halftime lead after Bazzoli slammed through an emotional buzzer-beating dunk. The emotion was much different for Central Catholic, which entered the locker room with the same number of turnovers as points.
“You don't ever win a game at the end of a quarter,” Giannotta said, “but when Bazzoli made that dunk at the end of the half, our kids were in the locker room and the Central kids were still sitting on the bench.”
A cutting layup by McCauley pushed the lead to 30 with 4:45 left in the third quarter. Central Catholic was held without a basket in the third and scored just two points, free throws by David Urso.
Seneca Valley's lead peaked, 53-18, after the third. It would have grown larger if not for Urso, who scored 10 of his team-high 19 points in the fourth quarter.
The teams combined for 28 free throws in the fourth. Seneca Valley made 13 of 17.
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.