Basketball playoff preview: Multiple scorers key for West Mifflin
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West Mifflin coach Lance Maha has one of the most complicated offensive and defensive systems that you will see in the WPIAL. He has different ways to beat the press, put pressure on teams and create shots for others when teams play junk defenses on his son, Ryan Maha.
Knowing all that, the veteran coach is sure that if this happens during Tuesday's WPIAL Class AAA first-round playoff game against South Fayette at Baldwin that his team will most certainly win.
“When we put three people in double figures, we win,” Maha said. “It is a pretty simple formula.”
Simple but important.
When the Titans have put only one player in double figures this year, they are 0-4. Conversely, when three or more players score at least 10 points, West Mifflin is 8-0.
“Our best games are when Ryan gets 18 to 20 and we get 10 to 12 out of some other guys,” Maha said. “When we do that, we are hard to beat.”
The reason for the importance of getting multiple players in double figures is because of the junk defense teams typically play against Ryan Maha.
Ryan Maha has been West Mifflin's leading scorer in 17 games and is averaging 18.3 points per game. When teams sell out to cover him, the Titans need to have others score to counteract that.
“The way to punish a team for selling out one guy is for his teammates to step up,” Lance Maha said. “Sometimes we've been able to do that and other times we haven't.”
The onus falls on starters Cye Murphy, Derrick Fulmore, Cleve Randolph and Josh Harris to pick up the scoring slack. Fulmore and Murphy were the only others to lead the Titans in scoring this year.
However, Maha knows he needs to get his son involved in the game early to have any chance against South Fayette.
“We definitely need to get him shots because he is our best shooter,” Maha said. “We need to find a way to get him the ball, and he needs to do a better job of working without the ball.”
West Mifflin (16-5) beat South Fayette (13-9) earlier in the season, 49-34, and even though the Lions also have lost seven of their last 10 games, Maha knows the game won't be easy.
“To be frank, they didn't shoot the ball particularly well,” Maha said. “They would've played us better if they would've shot it a little better. It's a formidable challenge, but if we play like we can, it should be a good game.”
South Fayette is led by the inside-outside duo of Evan Bonnaure (16.7) and C.J. Rudisic (13.5)
The winner will likely get top-seeded Chartiers Valley in the quarterfinals.
Thomas Jefferson (16-6) vs. Laurel Highlands (15-6) at Gateway, 8 p.m.
The Jaguars had 11 days off since their Section 4-AAA-clinching win over West Mifflin. The Jaguars are a tough and gritty team led by a pair of football players in Joe Carroll (16.1) and Chase Winovich (11.9). TJ's only loss to a Triple-A team this year was to Montour. Laurel Highlands had a nine-game winning streak snapped in the season finale against rival Uniontown. The Mustangs look to Shane Guthrie (15.9) to do the bulk of the scoring. The winner will oppose either Montour or Ambridge in the quarterfinals Friday.
Steel Valley (15-7) vs. Jeannette (15-6) at Fox Chapel, 6:30 p.m.
Two of the best players in Class AA will do battle with Jeannette's Ciara Gregory and Steel Valley's C.C. Dixon. Gregory averaged 30.4 points per game during the regular season. Dixon scored 23 in a first-round win over Avonworth (59-34) and averages 16.2 points per game. The winner takes on either Deer Lakes or OLSH.
Norwin (13-10) vs. Bethel Park (19-3) at Woodland Hills, 8 p.m.
Norwin used a big first-half run to beat Penn Hills in a preliminary-round game last week for its first playoff win since 2008. Now the Knights get a strong Bethel Park team led by Megan Marecic and her 15.5 points per game. Norwin is led by Alayna Gribble's 15 points per game. The winner takes on either Penn-Trafford or Plum.
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