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Clairton edges Sewickley Academy to reach quarterfinals

| Friday, Feb. 14, 2014, 10:33 p.m.

Clairton couldn't make a free throw down the stretch.

The Bears couldn't miss from 3-point range in overtime.

Isaiah Hollis and Rasheed Pacley made 3-pointers 55 seconds apart and hit 5 of 6 from the line in overtime as No. 10 Clairton advanced to the WPIAL Class A quarterfinals with a 55-51 win over No. 7 Sewickley Academy at Montour.

“This was by far our best game of the season,” Clairton coach Matt Geletko said. “Without a doubt, the best. We defended. We made shots. We hit our foul shots. Every little mistake we made during the season, we did it all right tonight.”

Clairton (10-6) will take on second-seeded and defending champion Vincentian (21-2) on Friday at a site and time to be determined. It is a rematch of last year's Class A championship game.

“This was a big win for us,” Pacley said. “We have had a lot of games canceled this year, and we are finally coming together as a team.”

Jaquan Ford led the Bears with 15, while Pacley added 14 and Hollis 13. Aaron Mathews grabbed 15 of his 16 rebounds in the second half and overtime.

Sewickley Academy (13-8) got 16 points from Anthony Moscato, while Keenen Hickton chipped in with 12 and Drew Johnson 11.

The Bears outscored the Panthers, 13-9, in overtime.

“We just didn't want to lose,” Pacley said.

The Bears fought back from a 10-point, second-quarter deficit to get back into the game at halftime.

The teams stayed close the rest of the way except for when the Panthers briefly took a 39-33 lead with four minutes remaining in the game.

Clairton answered and took the lead with less than a minute remaining when a Ford runner was good and he was fouled. He made the free throw to give the Bears a 42-41 lead.

“At the end of regulation, that was one point where we didn't play well,” Geletko said. “We missed some foul shots that could've put the game away.”

The Bears missed three free throws in a span of 19 seconds that allowed Sewickley Academy's Drew Johnson to send the game into overtime by hitting the second of two free throws with 1.9 seconds left.

“You never know how your team is going to react in overtime, especially how we got there,” Geletko said.

They responded in a surprising manner.

The Bears, usually not a good 3-point shooting team, got long-range shots by Hollis and Pacley sandwiched around a put-back by Mathews to give them a 50-44 lead.

“I was open so all I was thinking was, ‘Knock it down,' ” Pacley said.

“I was a little skeptical about it, but it worked out,” Geletko said about the shot selections.

Clairton iced the game at the line. A week after missing 13 of 22 free throw in a loss to Monessen, the Bears were nearly perfect down the stretch.

“Basketball isn't a tough game,” Geletko said. “You put the ball in the hoop and defend.”

Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at mkaboly@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MarkKaboly_Trib.

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