Burrell upsets No. 2 Greensburg Central Catholic in quarterfinals
Greensburg Central Catholic will remember this one as a painful upset loss. Burrell hopes to remember it as just another business-like performance among many in this suddenly wild postseason.
Unseeded at the start of the WPIAL playoffs, Burrell rallied from nine points down in the fourth quarter to force overtime and stun No. 2 seed Greensburg Central Catholic, 67-63, in a Class AA quarterfinal Saturday at Plum.
“It's never an upset if the so-called underdog thought they were the better team,” Burrell coach Rob Niederberger said. “We keep getting into games like this, and we find a way to get it done.”
The Buccaneers (18-6) advance to the semifinals for the first time since 1979 and will take on sixth-seeded Quaker Valley (20-4), which upset No. 3 Seton-La Salle on Saturday. The semifinal will be 6 p.m. Wednesday at North Allegheny.
Quaker Valley beat Burrell in a season-opening tournament.
“Revenge time,” Niederberger said.
Burrell made 10 3-pointers, including five in the fourth quarter, to force the extra period.
Greensburg Central (22-2) had a 14-game winning streak snapped.
“Give Burrell credit; they're a good team,” Centurions coach Greg Bisignani said. “It was a tough game, down to the end. We had three charges called in the last four minutes. I don't think we had three called all year. But Burrell made their shots and executed at the end. We didn't.”
Pete Spagnolo led Burrell with 16 points and nine rebounds. Alex White added 14 points, including a game-tying 3-pointer with 21 seconds to play to help force overtime, and five rebounds. Jake Prefling (13) and Cole Bush (10) also scored in double figures for the Bucs.
“There is no panic in this team,” Niederberger said. “We're used to playing in situations like this.”
Brian Graytok had 22 points and Christian Hyland added 14 for Greensburg CC, which went ahead, 45-36, on a 3-point play by Graytok early in the fourth.
Burrell followed with 3-pointers by Prefling and Spagnolo, and a layup by White to cut the deficit to 47-44.
Another 3-point play by Graytok put the Centurions ahead 52-46, but Burrell rallied again when White hit a 3-pointer from the corner to get the Bucs to 55-53 with 1:15 to play.
Graytok, who was 12 for 14 at the foul line, made a pair of free throws to give GCC a 57-54 lead with 41.5 seconds left, but White's 3-pointer with 21 seconds left tied it at 57.
In overtime, Spagnolo scored six of the Bucs' 10 points, on a runner and four free throws.
Two more free throws by reserve James Liput made it, 65-61, and Prefling grabbed a key rebound and made a foul shot.
After one more free throw by White, Graytok hit two foul shots to make it 67-63, but Burrell held on.
“When we get in close games like this, we have a sense of urgency,” White said. “When teams collapse on us inside, we have guys waiting outside, ready to shoot. Greensburg has some good shooters, but we do, too.”
Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.