Greensburg Central Catholic boys roll past Bald Eagle in PIAA opener
Greensburg Central Catholic's warm-up jerseys read, “We work 84/32,” referencing the 84 feet that make up the length of the court and the 32 minutes that make up a high school game.
The Centurions lived up to that statement in their opening-round game of the PIAA Class AA playoffs, defeating Bald Eagle Area, 92-59, on Saturday at Hempfield.
“We ran up against a buzz saw,” Bald Eagle coach Bill Butterworth said. “That's why they're No. 3 in the state, and you can't ask much more of my kids than that.”
The Centurions shook off the disappointment from their 52-51 loss to Seton-La Salle in the WPIAL finals a week ago and pushed the tempo from start to finish, leading the entire way.
“That was one of our main goals, to win a WPIAL championship, but we just had to think about the fact that there's still a state championship out there,” senior Brian Graytok said. “We refocused in practice and came out and had a good showing today.”
Graytok led all scorers with 25 points, Billy Hipp scored 15, Romano Sebastiani 11 and Christian Hyland added 10 for GCC (23-3).
Greensburg Central Catholic moves on to face District 10 champion West Middlesex on Wednesday at a site and time to be determined. The Centurions lost to Lakeview in the second round of the PIAA playoffs a year ago.
“Last year we lost to a team that we should have beat,” Graytok said. “We know which round we lost in and we'll be motivated for Wednesday for sure.”
It was clear from the opening tip that Bald Eagle (20-6), the third-place team from District 6, was outmatched. Graytok finished a layup in the opening seconds, and GCC started on a 6-0 run before leading 18-11 at the end of the first quarter.
“You never know how a team's going to respond after a tough loss in a championship game,” GCC coach Greg Bisignani said. “But it just shows you the heart and determination that the kids play with.”
Bald Eagle was accustomed to playing an up-tempo style, but simply couldn't hang with GCC.
“We average 70 points a game in our league, so we're used to that. We want up-tempo,” Butterworth said. “I don't know how many jumpers they shot, but I know they shot a lot of layups off the fast-break.”
Graytok led a 13-2 GCC run to start the second quarter, stretching the lead to 31-13.
Leading by 14 in the third quarter, Graytok converted a 3-point play to cap a 12-4 run that stretched the lead to 61-37.
“We're a very motivated team,” Graytok said. “We worked hard in the summer, and we worked hard for the playoffs, so this is where we want to be our best.”
Sebastiani finished a back-door cut to stretch the lead to 82-52 in the fourth quarter. Both teams pulled their starters for the rest of the game.
Bryan Green led Bald Eagle with 19 points.
Gary Horvath is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.