South Fayette wins ugly against West Mifflin
West Mifflin never shoots well at Baldwin High School, and South Fayette struggled mightily the last time it played the Titans.
So heading into Tuesday's WPIAL Class AAA first-round playoff game, both coaches knew that it was going to be pretty.
And it wasn't.
However, No. 9 South Fayette used four quick bursts — 7-0, 6-0, 5-0 and 7-0 — late in each quarter to come away with a hard-fought 40-34 win over No. 8 West Mifflin.
The Lions (13-10) advanced to the quarterfinals to take on section foe Chartiers Valley at a site and time to be determined.
Evan Bonnaure led all scorers with 16 points, while West Mifflin's leading scorer, Ryan Maha, was held to 10 points with six of those coming in the last 59 seconds of the game. Maha was averaging 18.1 ppg.
“We knew it wasn't going to be pretty,” South Fayette coach Rich Bonnaure said, “just because how we have played them in the past.”
The most recent history between the two was in early December, and it wasn't pretty for the Lions there either.
South Fayette converted only 12 of 52 field goals, including 4 of 23 3-point attempts, in a 49-34 loss.
And early on, it was much of the same for the Lions.
South Fayette started the game hitting only two of its first 10 shots and started the second quarter by converting one of its first nine shots.
“They thought they were going to live with the three,” Bonnaure said. “We didn't want to get on the bus thinking that we were 2 of 30 from three.”
South Fayette finished 14 of 46 from the field, including 7 of 23 from 3-point range.
“This is a really tough place to shoot,” Maha said. “They didn't shoot it well either.”
But it was South Fayette's quick-strike ability that proved to be the difference.
In a 6-6 game late in the first, South Fayette rattled off seven points in 35 seconds to take a 13-6 lead. Then, at the end of the half with the score 15-11, The Lions scored six points in 58 seconds to go into halftime up, 21-11.
West Mifflin battled back late in the third and went on a 9-0 run sparked by a Cye Murphy dunk to make it 26-24. But another quick five points within a minute got the lead back seven by the end of the third.
“I knew if we continued to guard that they were going to come back to us because they were going to have trouble shooting as well,” Maha said. “But they made it tough on us. You have to either make some shots or get it to the rim, and they make it difficult to get to the rim. When you have difficulty scoring, sometimes you do things out of character. You have to be patient on defense, not just offense.”
West Mifflin had one last run in it and got its deficit to 31-28 in the fourth, but seven points in 78 seconds this time was too much for the Titans to overcome.
“They are a scrappy team,” Bonnaure said. “They have 16 wins, and they are very capable team.”