Jennette's hopes are pinned to Beaver Falls' WPIAL success

| Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, 5:18 p.m.

When Jeannette boys basketball head coach Adrien Batts awakened from a two-day, stunning loss induced state of incoherence into the lucid world of clear thinking, one question resounded in his head.

“Did we really lose?”

Batts' struggle to wrap his head around his team's shocking loss last Saturday to Apollo Ridge in the WPIAL Class-AA quarterfinals seems an all too stunning end to Jeannette's WPIAL season that at one time looked destined for certain glory. The Jayhawks, once the top-ranked team in Class-AA, had one goal in mind entering the playoffs: win the WPIAL. Their run began last Wednesday with a hard-fought, round of 16 win over a competitive Aliquippa team, which set up the quarterfinal matchup with Apollo Ridge. The Jayhawks were heavy favorites.

“If we play them 10 times I know we win nine,” said Batts. “We just hit a big wall and couldn't get over it.”

Didn't seem like too big a deal when Jeannette first encountered the big wall metaphor. The Jayhawks dominated the first quarter and led 24-6 entering the second. Then the wall. Over the next 16 minutes of basketball, Jeannette managed just 13 points shooting an abysmal 17 percent from the field while Apollo Ridge caught fire and surged to a four-point lead by the end of the third.

“We gave them confidence and we couldn't hit any of our shots,” said Batts. “We were doing things we have not done all season. We weren't defending. We couldn't find our man.”

Jeannette's inability to defend, coupled with their ice-cold shooting, extended into the fourth quarter and the Jayhawks fell 53-49. So began Batts' stupor two games sooner than he'd hoped.

“I really wanted to play Beaver Falls,” said Batts.

Beaver Falls, the one-seed in Class-AA, would have been Jeannette's semifinal opponent. “I wanted to see how good we really are.”

Batts now has to root for Beaver Falls to win it all. If the Tigers win the WPIAL title, Jeannette earns the seventh and final seed for the state playoff tournament, which begins next week.

Should Beaver Falls fall, Jeannette's season is finished.

Dave Moio is a freelance writer.

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