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No. 3 Montour routs TJ to coast into semifinals

| Friday, Feb. 22, 2013, 10:36 p.m.
Thomas Jefferson's Eric Fairman takes a charge from Montour's Devin Wilson during their WPIAL AAA playoff contest on February 22, 2013 at Bethel Park High School. Wilson led all scorers with 20 points in the Spartans' 59-38 victory over the Jaguars. Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review

The lane was empty, so Montour's Devin Wilson drove and dunked almost unchallenged.

It wasn't that Thomas Jefferson's defense was underestimating the talented point guard, but the Jaguars just couldn't ignore his teammates. Montour's Rob Julian and Kevin Scuilli combined for nine 3-pointers in a 59-40 victory on Friday night, carrying the Spartans into the WPIAL Class AAA semifinals for the third straight season.

“When they're hot and making threes like they were today, the lane opens up tremendously,” said Wilson, who scored 20 points and used his passing to key a 13-1 first-half run that gave Montour a lead it never lost.

Montour made 9 of 20 from 3-point range. Julian had six, and Scuilli added three. Thomas Jefferson faced a difficult situation: Guard the perimeter, and Wilson drove. Smother Wilson, and the Spartans shooters sank 3s.

“It all works through Wilson,” Thomas Jefferson coach Dom DeCicco said. “He controls tempo and everything. You don't want to make him a distributor and you also don't want him to be a scorer. He became both tonight.”

That showed with 4 minutes left, when Wilson dunked against a Jaguars defense that was stretched thin.

“The lane was wide-open because they were so concerned about them two making threes,” said Wilson, who had a coach from George Mason in the crowd at Bethel Park to watch him. “That makes my life so much easier.”

No. 3 seed Montour (20-4) will face No. 2 Mars in the semifinals. No. 6 Thomas Jefferson (17-7), the Section 4-AAA champion, still would qualify for the PIAA playoffs should Montour reach the WPIAL championship game for the second time in three seasons. Montour, which lost in the semifinals last season, won the Class AAA title in 2011.

Zach Talley scored 18 for Thomas Jefferson, which suffered a couple long scoring droughts.

After scoring the game's first points, a basket by Chase Winovich at 2:19 into the first quarter, Thomas Jefferson didn't score again until 13 seconds into the second. By then, Montour led, 9-2.

“To beat them you've got to get the lead on them,” DeCicco said, “because it changes how we'll defense and it changes how they attack.”

After making just one field goal in the first 10 minutes, Thomas Jefferson made three consecutive 3-pointers in just 54 seconds. The third 3-pointer, by Talley, gave the Jaguars a 13-12 lead with 4:50 left before half.

But the lead was short-lived. Montour ended the first half with a 13-1 run, which included five points by Wilson. Montour led, 24-13, at halftime.

“That was a killer,” DeCicco said, “because we'd had great momentum.”

Julian and Scuilli made three of their nine 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, keeping Thomas Jefferson from rallying. With 5 minutes left, Scuilli's 3-pointer pushed Montour's lead back to 12.

“We're hard to guard when we're shooting the ball like that,” Montour coach Adam Kaufmann said, “and we have really good shooters.”

Chris Harlan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at charlan@tribweb.com or via Twitter @ChrisHarlanTrib.

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