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Bethel Park shoots past Mt. Lebanon

| Friday, Jan. 31, 2014, 10:42 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Bethel Park's Jake Dixon battles Mt. Lebanon's Matthew Collins for a loose ball during their game Friday, Jan. 31, 2014, at Bethel Park.

A combined five 3-pointers by Bethel Park's R.J. Pfeuffer and Josh Krafczynski built a first-half lead that the Black Hawks never lost in 52-47 victory Friday over Section 4 visitor Mt. Lebanon.

Outside shooting was Bethel Park's best solution for Mt. Lebanon's height advantage.

“A couple (3-pointers) by Josh and R.J. early really loosened us up,” Bethel Park coach Ben O'Connor said. “It was just enough.”

Tied 14-14 after one, a 3 by Pfeuffer 19 seconds into the second quarter gave Bethel Park a lead it never lost. Pfeuffer and Krafczynski had four 3-pointers in the second quarter.

“We didn't do a good job guarding the (3-pointer) in the first half,” Mt. Lebanon coach Joe David said. “We didn't do the things we needed in the first half to be in a position to win the basketball game. We were trying to play catch up the entire time.”

Trailing 50-47 with 8 seconds left, Mt. Lebanon had one last chance, but a difficult 3-pointer by Johnny David bounced off the rim. Two free throws by Pfeuffer and an inbounds steal by Joe Mascaro sealed the win and created a slight separation in the tight section standings.

Mt. Lebanon won 34-32 on Jan. 18 when Bethel Park surrendered a fourth-quarter lead. This time, the Black Hawks held on. The lead was 42-40 after a driving layup by Mark Lamendola with 4:15 left. It was 48-45 after a layup and foul shot by Max Li with 2:01 left.

A basket by David with 35.7 seconds left pulled Mt. Lebanon back to within three, but his would-be tying shot missed with eight seconds left.

The season started without a clear Section 4 favorite, a trend that still holds mostly true. Bethel Park and Upper St. Clair split their two head-to-head games, and now Mt. Lebanon and Bethel Park have, too.

A USC victory over Mt. Lebanon on Feb. 7 would split that series. Plus, Canon-McMillan and Peters Township remain in the playoff hunt.

“Everybody is beatable this year,” Joe David said. “There's nobody that stands head and shoulders above anybody else. On any given night, anything can happen, so you come ready to play.”

Mt. Lebanon led 14-11 until Bethel Park used a quick 6-0 run to take the lead early in the second quarter. The lead reached 32-23 at halftime when Anthony Bomar made a put-back basket just before the buzzer.

Bethel Park led 42-36 after three.

Bomar scored 11 points, and Mascaro had 10 for Bethel Park. Johnny David scored 15 points, and Matthew Collins had 10, all in the second half.

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

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