Physical Prep team bounces Hampton from PIAA playoffs
FARRELL — Erie Cathedral Prep couldn't match Hampton's height but certainly matched its muscle.
“No. 1, we had to match their physicality ... and I'm not sure if we did,” said Hampton coach Joe Lafko, whose Talbots lost a gritty battle Wednesday with the District 10 champion, 58-50, in the second round of the PIAA Class AAAA playoffs at Farrell.
“They're a physical team that really guards the ball aggressively,” he said.
Despite having nobody taller than 6-foot-3, Cathedral Prep (23-2) was determined to challenge Hampton (21-6), including 6-8 standout Ryan Luther, who had just one second-half basket.
Luther finished with 15 points, but Prep's defense allowed him little room and few opportunities.
“They were able to muscle him,” said Lafko, whose displeasure over non-calls drew a third-quarter technical. “When the ball entered the post, they had three guys around him.”
Hampton's outside shooting didn't help extend that collapsing defense.
The Talbots made just three 3-pointers and missed 8 of 10 in the first half. Combined, they had just three fourth-quarter field goals.
“We had to make more of those in order to have a chance,” Lafko said.
Collin Luther led with 24 points. The 6-7 junior had 11 in the fourth quarter, including nine from the free throw line that gave Hampton a lead with 3:44 left.
But two long 3-pointers in the final seconds missed while the Talbots attempted to rally.
“Collin gave us his all tonight,” Lafko said. “He looked to take over the scoring when we needed it.”
Prep's tallest starter was 6-3 senior Conor Colpoys, an interior player who had 12 points. Two other Prep starters were 6-2, and the others were 6-foot.
“We've played big teams before, but not teams that had two 6-8 or 6-7 kids,” Prep coach Mark Majewski said. “When we scouted them, we were worried about matchups. ... We're not big; we just have to play tough and play hard.
“The kids did a great job pressuring (Hampton's) guards and making it difficult for entry passes.”
In consecutive rounds, Cathedral Prep has eliminated Seneca Valley and Hampton. WPIAL champion New Castle, another team from Section 3, awaits the Ramblers in Saturday's quarterfinals.
“Prep could compete well within Section 3,” Lafko said.
Hampton twice took the lead in the fourth quarter. Two free throws by Collin Luther put the Talbots ahead, 45-44, with 3:44 left. And a layup by sophomore Joey Lafko put them up, 47-46, with 2:25 left.
But an 8-0 run in 48 seconds allowed Cathedral Prep to pull away, sparked by Harris' second 3-pointer in the fourth. With 1:12 left, Cathedral Prep led, 54-48. To clinch the victory,
Sheldon Zablotney made six consecutive free throws in the final 25 seconds.
“I give my guys a lot of credit,” Lafko said. “They didn't quit.”