Montour edges General McLane in state quarterfinals
With a one-point lead and two minutes left, Montour decided it was time to stop shooting, unless those shots came from the foul line.
Montour's Devin Wilson dribbled in circles with General McLane's star point guard Jaymon Mason chasing him, allowing the Spartans to play keep away until their Erie opponent lost patience.
Finally, McLane fouled.
Montour's Kevin Scuilli sank six consecutive free throws in the final 40 seconds and Rob Julian made two more with 10 seconds left to secure Friday night's 42-40 victory over General McLane in a PIAA Class AAA quarterfinal at New Castle.
McLane (23-6) was the District 10 champion.
In those final minutes, Montour (24-4) played to its strengths, ball handling and free throw shooting. The Spartans also were protecting Wilson and Justin Hill, who each had four fouls.
“We were just playing the percentages,” Montour coach Adam Kaufman said. “If people don't like it, put a shot clock in.”
Montour had made just 3 of 16 shots from 3-point range. Yet they never trailed and were perfect from the foul line in the fourth quarter.
In contrast, McLane made just 5 of 14 free throws.
“At this point you know just you've got to calm down and knock them down,” Scuilli said.
Wilson, who had 13 points, leads Montour to the state semifinals for the third consecutive season. The Spartans were PIAA runners-up in 2011 and 2012. They will play Philadelphia's Archbishop Carroll, a 49-46 winner over Chartiers Valley.
Mason had 22 points, but he missed two 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, including a rushed shot with 31 seconds left.
When Scuilli made two free throws with 26 seconds left — the middle pair of his six — Montour led, 38-33.
“Our guys were smart enough to get the ball to the right people,” Kaufman said. “They were patient with the ball.”
Patience became one of Montour's best skill.
With possession and ahead 34-33, Montour spread the floor, ran the clock to 1:20 and called timeout.
“My thinking was that if we shoot this ball and miss, Mason is going to attack us and we'll have a chance of fouling out one of our two best ballhandlers,” Kaufman said.
After the time out, the Spartans ate nearly another minute before Scuilli was fouled with 39.9 seconds left.
For much of that time, Mason was chasing after Wilson. It was the final showdown between the two talented point guards, who had battle for much of the game.
“I slowed it down,” Wilson said, “and just tried to keep the ball out of their hands.”
After the time out, the Spartans ate nearly another minute before Scuilli was fouled with 39.9 seconds left. His first two free throws gave Montour a 36-33 lead.
After Mason missed a 3-pointer, Scuilli made two more free throws with 26 seconds left to lead, 38-33. A quick basket by Mason narrowed the gap to three points, but two more Scuilli free throws gave Montour a 40-35 lead with 21 seconds left.
A put-back basket by McLane's Ryland Luciano with 12 seconds left again created a three-point game. Two free throws by Julian with 10 seconds left pushed Montour's lead to 42-37.
With Montour ahead by five, Mason sank a harmless 3-pointer in the final seconds.