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GCC hangs on after squandering late lead to Carlynton

| Friday, Feb. 21, 2014, 10:03 p.m.

It was another close game for Greensburg Central Catholic.

Also another victory.

The third-seeded Centurions nearly squandered a 12-point, fourth-quarter lead but survived and pulled out a 63-61 win over No. 6 Carlynton Friday in a WPIAL Class AA quarterfinal at Baldwin.

“We've been in a lot of situations like that,” junior Carolyn Appleby said. “We handle them well and get through it.”

Appleby led Greensburg Central Catholic (19-4) with 22 points, all but six of them in the second half. Leah Bisignani added 19 points and 11 rebounds, and Nicole Addisey scored 17 points.

Carlynton (19-4) got a game-high 25 points from Conor Richardson, 13 from Jazmyn Meredith and 12 from Jordan Melko.

The Centurions will play No. 2 Burrell in Tuesday's semifinals.

Greensburg Central Catholic led 56-44 following a pair of free throws from Appleby at 5:12 of the fourth quarter before Carlynton made a push.

Three Richardson 3-pointers, a few free throws and a jumper from Carlynton's Alexis Kowal made the score 62-60 at 1:01.

Abigail Greiner made one of two free throws with 20.6 seconds left before Appleby made a free throw. Richardson's 3-pointer with a few seconds left rimmed out to seal it.

“We didn't want to lose,” Bisignani said. “We've worked so hard all season.”

The Centurions won 13 of 14 down the stretch, the lone exception a one-point loss to Class AAAA No. 5 seed Upper St. Clair. A two-point victory over Belle Vernon also increased GCC's comfort zone in tight games.

For Carlynton, which has enjoyed a revival season and claimed the Section 6-AA title, this one will probably be remembered for the officiating.

The Cougars were hit with a technical foul for an illegal substitution in the third quarter and had a Richardson steal — and wide-open layup — taken away for a late double-dribble call in the fourth.

“Hats off to my players,” Carlynton coach Tim Bonner said. “Every time they would get back into it, (the officials) would make a big call against us. My kids didn't hang their heads. They just kept coming back.”

Greensburg Central Catholic scored the first nine points of the game, two on layups from Addisey, and held a 17-11 lead after one.

Carlynton slowly chipped away and scored 14 of the first 20 points of the second quarter.

The Cougars took their first lead when Melko knocked drained a long jumper from the right wing for a 25-23 advantage at 3:56.

Bisignani, who led all scorers with 13 first-half points, scored on a layup to cut it to 33-31 at the break.

Greensburg Central Catholic closed the third quarter on an 8-0 run that consumed about 15 minutes of real time after the technical foul and the confusion over the rule.

“In a game like this, I don't know how you call that,” Bonner said. “I really don't.”

Carlynton still made one final push, but Greensburg Central Catholic wasn't about to let this one slip through its fingers.

“We know that we have to stick together,” Appleby said. “We don't let it get to our heads and play the game we know how to play.”

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

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