Greensburg Central Catholic boys make good on season-long promise to reach title game
Brian Graytok and the second-seeded Greensburg Central Catholic boys basketball team had a plan this entire season.
“Ever since we lost to Burrell in the quarterfinals last year, we made it our goal to get to Palumbo Center,” Graytok said. “We came out, put the effort in, and we did it; we're going to Palumbo.”
The Centurions punched their ticket with an ugly-at-times, 60-51 win over No. 3 Aliquippa Wednesday night in a WPIAL Class AA semifinal at Baldwin.
Graytok led Greensburg Central Catholic (22-2) with 20 points. Billy Hipp added 12, Romano Sebastiani 11. Jassir Jordan had a game-high 22 points for Aliquippa (19-5), which had its 11-game winning streak snapped.
Greensburg Central Catholic advances to Palumbo Center for the first time since finishing second to Monessen in 2011. The Centurions will play top-seeded Seton-La Salle Saturday, time still to be determined.
Centurions coach Greg Bisignani declined comment after the game, saying he was prohibited from speaking with reporters because of an issue with a referee earlier this season that led to a three-game suspension.
Centurions assistant coach Dave Palcic said the loss to Burrell — as well as a 2011 championship game loss to Monessen — had definitely been talked about all season.
“Burrell was a big motivating factor for us this year,” Palcic said. “That was a tough one to swallow.”
For Aliquippa, which is enjoying its first winning season since 2009-10, the loss was representative of the Quips' young team: flashy and impressive at times, choppy and mistake-filled at others.
The Quips cut it to one in the third, but quickly faded.
“We're a young team,” Aliquippa coach Nick Lackowich said. “We have to learn how to win close games like this.”
After the Centurions built a 30-19 lead following back-to-back layups from Hipp late in the third quarter, the Quips closed the period on a 13-3 run.
Jordan knocked down a 3-pointer from the left wing to cut Greensburg Central Catholic's lead to 33-32 after three.
GCC limited Aliquippa to just one field goal during the first five minutes of the fourth quarter and stretched its lead to 40-34 following Graytok's full-court heave to Hipp, who converted the three-point play.
“We weren't nervous when they cut it to one,” Graytok said. “We just knew we had to keep our foot on the gas.”
Baskets were hard to come by early, as Aliquippa held an 8-5 lead after one behind four points from Jordan.
Things remained tight until the Centurions closed the first half on an 8-2 run. All of those points came from Graytok, who had a game-high 13 during the first 16 minutes.
Greensburg Central Catholic was ahead 24-17 at the break.