South Fayette stymies Greensburg Salem in Class AAA preliminary game
It's tough to win basketball games when you can't make shots.
Fortunately for South Fayette, it had Nick McKee.
The 5-foot-10 junior guard was the only player on the floor for either team to consistently make shots in the first half. This came from a player who hadn't practiced in a week after suffering a sprained ankle at Chartiers Valley on Feb. 7.
McKee scored 14 of his game-high 16 points in the first half, and South Fayette rolled to a 54-42 victory against Greensburg Salem (10-12) on Friday at Peters Township in the preliminary round of the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs.
South Fayette (13-9) advances to face No. 4 seed Elizabeth Forward (18-3) on Tuesday at a site to be determined.
After Greensburg Salem tied to score 10-10 early in the second quarter on a basket by Antonio Ferrari, South Fayette ended the half on a 13-0 run to grab a 23-10 lead at the break as McKee hit two 3-pointers. He had four 3-pointers in the first half.
The second quarter proved to be the difference.
“Nick had a few shots, and we got a few stops in the second quarter,” South Fayette coach Rich Bonnaure said. “I was kind of worried because Nick hadn't touched a ball in week. He hit a couple shots. He's a winner.
“I thought if we could get the lead, we'd be OK. Our defense has been pretty good. Getting the lead on them was the key.”
Greensburg Salem was 0 for 9 from the floor after Ferrari's shot and it finished the first half shooting 3 for 23 (13 percent).
“We just couldn't get the basketball in the hole the first half,” Greensburg Salem coach Craig Mankins said. “We got good shots; we just couldn't get the ball to fall.
“We kept fighting, but McKee's four 3s proved to be the difference. It stretched the game out. I felt we did a good job defensively.”
In the second half, South Fayette's Jack Relihan picked up where McKee left off. He finished 16 points, 12 in the second half.
Mankins said the team was confident they could play against South Fayette. Relihan was a tough matchup.
Greensburg Salem found its shooting touch in the second half, but the Golden Lions had trouble cutting into South Fayette's lead.
Pat Boyer and Antonio Ferrari each scored 13 points for Greensburg Salem, including 11 each in the second half. Boyer finished with 12 rebounds.
“I don't think we played our best,” Bonnaure said. “Both teams played hard. It's nice to not play your best and still win a playoff game.”
South Fayette junior Brett Brumbaugh had 10 points and 13 rebounds, while Justin Watson added 18 rebounds.