West Mifflin stuns Serra with late rally
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Your best player and leading scorer is out with an ankle injury; you turn the ball over 26 times; you score 14 first-half points and trail by 13 points late in third and by six with the less than a minute left.
Considering the circumstances facing West Mifflin in Friday's season-opening game against Serra Catholic, and also the way they won, Titans coach Lance Maha will take the 46-44 victory and not complain.
“We just found a way,” Maha said.
Quite a strange way, actually.
Tre Booth's steal of Joe Satira's behind-the-back pass in the paint after a missed foul shot by teammate Brian Kolar in a 44-42 game was converted into an awkward three-point play with 13.9 seconds left.
“He has played a lot and give him credit, he went out there and made a play to win the game,” Maha said.
West Mifflin then turned away Tyler Grebur on a pair of late chances — forcing a turnover then a missed layup as time expired — to escape Serra with the win without Carnegie Mellon recruit Ryan Maha.
“We are just brutally inexperienced and without Ryan made it worse,” coach Maha said. “We were out of a position a lot and made a lot of mistakes, but hey, we will take it.”
Karlyn Garner scored 19 for West Mifflin, and the trio of Max Kaminsky (17), Grebur (16) and Satira (eight) combined for all but three of the Serra's points.
“We let this one get away,” Serra coach Vince Gibbons said. “We were up and we have to find a way to win. We have forgot how to win. We lost the last five last year and that's something that has to change.”
It almost did. In fact, if Gibbons would've gotten his way during the game-altering possession late, the Eagles very well may have won.
When Satira grabbed the rebound from Kolar's missed foul shot, Gibbons tried to call timeout.
“I was screaming my head off because I wanted a timeout,” Gibbons said. “I guess they didn't hear me.”
The first half wasn't pretty for either team.
West Mifflin had more turnovers (15) than points (14) in the first half while Serra went a span of seven minutes without a point in the second quarter.
The Titans kept trying to exploit their matchup advantage inside with Mike Peterson, but couldn't execute.
“Serra is small and that's a tough guard for us,” Maha said. “They spread us out and weren't able to take advantage of it on the offensive side. We tried.”
Serra made a run midway through the third sparked by Kaminsky. The 3-point specialist nailed a pair within a minute to push the Eagles to a 32-19 lead with a minute left in the third.
“That final minute of the third was the biggest sequence of the game,” Gibbons said.
Anthony Koval missed a 3-pointer that was quickly turned into treys by Garner and Josh Long within 13 seconds to get the Titans within six.
“Huge, absolutely huge,” Gibbons said.
Another 3-pointer midway through the fourth by Kolar cut West Mifflin's lead to 36-34. Serra got it back to 40-34 before the Titans whittled it to 44-41 with Kolar at the line shooting a pair.
Kolar made the first before his miss set up Booth's game-winner — a reverse layup and foul.
“Like I said, we'll take it,” Maha said.
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