Elizabeth Forward ousts South Fayette in WPIAL Class AAA playoffs

| Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, 10:15 p.m.

It won't be one-and-done for the Elizabeth Forward boys basketball team this season.

Austin Matta scored 12 points, and George Prota added 10 as the fourth-seeded Warriors sneaked past No. 13 South Fayette, 47-40, in a WPIAL Class AAA first-round game Tuesday at Canon-McMillan.

Elizabeth Forward moved into the quarterfinals, avenging a preliminary-round loss to Indiana a season ago.

“This is what we've been working all year, but it's only part of the goal,” said Prota, who transferred from Serra Catholic prior to this season. “Still, it feels fantastic.”

The Warriors will play No. 5 Uniontown on Friday at a site and time to be determined.

Prota pulled down 10 rebounds. JaQuaun Davidson added nine points and Matt Bernadowski eight, but Elizabeth Forward (20-3) made just 4 of 14 free throws.

Nick McKee led South Fayette (13-10) with 12 points. Jack Relihan had 10.

Matta pushed Elizabeth Forward in front for the first time since early in the opening quarter with three 3-pointers early in the third, the final one with him tumbling to the ground at 4:24.

The Warriors outscored South Fayette, 17-10, in the third quarter to take a 36-35 lead entering the fourth.

“I could tell in warmups,” Matta said. “I felt comfortable. I had confidence. Obviously, I was correct.”

Prota made a basket inside, Bernadowski hit a turnaround jumper, and Jasano Brooks (seven points) scored on a putback to give Elizabeth Forward a 42-35 lead at 5:15 of the final period.

South Fayette got no closer than four the rest of the way.

While Elizabeth Forward did not have to play in the preliminary round, South Fayette was coming off a 54-42 victory over Greensburg Salem, getting a game-high 16 points from McKee.

It was a welcome change for South Fayette, which closed the regular season, losing four of five.

Elizabeth Forward, meanwhile, closed the season by winning five straight, though that came after a 65-63 loss at Thomas Jefferson that gave the Jaguars the Section 4-AAA title.

The Warriors had been haunted by a preliminary-round loss to Indiana a season ago and stalling out the previous year in the first round.

South Fayette closed the first quarter on a 7-0 run and had a 17-10 lead after one.

Watson hit two free throws to start the spurt, then flipped in a layup. McKee drilled an NBA-range 3-pointer with 1 second left for the final margin.

The prettiest play, however, may have been Watson's give-and-go feed to Brett Brumbaugh inside.

“They're hard to play against,” Warriors coach Gerald Grayson said of South Fayette. “They run their offense well.”

Elizabeth Forward got baskets from Prota, Bernadowski and Davidson to make it 17-16 early in the second before South Fayette responded.

Jack Relihan's 3-pointer from the left wing gave South Fayette a 22-19 lead at 2:56, and his 3 from the right wing 2 seconds before halftime made it 25-19.

Jason Mackey is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jmackey@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Mackey_Trib.com.

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