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Serra's latest comeback attempt falls short

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By Keith Barnes
Monday, Feb. 18, 2013, 12:51 a.m.

Serra Catholic wasn't in a completely unfamiliar position when it faced a double-digit second half deficit against Mohawk on Saturday in its WPIAL Class AA preliminary-round playoff game.

The Eagles have found themselves in holes like that throughout the latter part of the season.

And, like so many of those other times, Serra Catholic (13-9) made a late run against the Warriors. In this instance, Serra gave itself a chance at perhaps advancing and becoming the No. 14 seed in the tournament. But it was not to be as the Eagles' late rally came up short in a 49-43 loss at Chartiers Valley High School.

“They're tired. When you're not deep, you make that run and you use all that energy and, with four minutes left in the game, you don't have anything left in the tank,” Serra Catholic coach Vince Gibbons said. “They've got to get conditioned better and we've got to run the heck out of them this summer and, hopefully, some other kids will develop and we'll fill the holes we have right now.”

Serra Catholic made this one even closer than it did some of its other failed come-from-behind attempts. Trailing, 34-32, with just under four minutes remaining, the Eagles were in the midst of a 12-0 run that had eroded what had been a 14-point deficit. They had a pair of opportunities to tie the game.

In both instances, Mohawk forward Lucas Grim, who led all scorers with 17 points, missed the front end of a one-and-one and Serra Catholic rebounded. Each time, instead of setting up the half-court offense that had been so effective during their run, the Eagles settled for hurried 3-pointers that failed to connect.

“It wasn't the shot we wanted, but it was an open look and it's unfortunate that it didn't go in because it could have really turned the tide,” Gibbons said. “But one play doesn't win or lose a game.”

No, this game was lost in the second quarter when Mohawk (10-13) opened the period on a 15-0 run, and Serra Catholic was held without a field goal for 7 minutes, 52 seconds on 0- for-12 shooting from the field. The Eagles' only points from the floor were on a George Prota layup with 46.1 seconds to play in the half.

“We shot the ball better than we normally do, and we got 3-pointers from guys who normally don't get points that way,” Mohawk coach Rob Fadden, who's team will play No. 3 Seton-La Salle on Wednesday, said. “When we got in at 9-13, I said we're happy to be here and we'll play whoever and, now we've got a win and we get to go up against one of the best.”

For Serra Catholic, though, this loss marked the end of a tumultuous season in which the team won its first nine games then lost its final five and seven of its last eight. It was tough year made more difficult with the team's transition to moving up in classification and having to play top-flight teams Greensburg Central Catholic and Jeannette in its section.

“We went from being the largest Class A school in the WPIAL to the smallest Double-A school, and that's a huge difference,” Gibbons said. “It was about what we had anticipated, but when you start 9-0, maybe you get a bit more optimistic and you're not as much of a realist as you should be. We need to grow up, get a little stronger and get in better shape.”

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