Thomas Jefferson, Central Valley prepare for rematch
The best preparation for Central Valley and Thomas Jefferson might have been their in-house scrimmages leading up to Tuesday's PIAA Class AAA boys basketball playoff game at Chartiers Valley. They resemble each other that much.
It took overtime for Central Valley to put an end to the Jaguars' 15-game winning streak Feb. 25 in the WPIAL semis. Both are 23-3 with a chance to move a step closer to a coveted state title.
“Every possession means so much when you get to this point,” Thomas Jefferson coach Dom DeCicco said. “You don't always win or lose games in the fourth quarter. It might be decided in the second or the third with a couple of possessions.”
Since losing to unbeaten Class AAAA New Castle in its regular-season finale, Central Valley has reeled off five postseason victories by an average of nearly 11 points, though the Warriors survived Chartiers Valley by just one point, 70-69, to claim the WPIAL title.
Since then, Central Valley and Thomas Jefferson passed PIAA first-round tests with victories Friday.
“Central Valley, obviously, is a great team,” DeCicco said. “For us, we're just focusing on the next thing in an effort to reach our ultimate goal. This is no grudge match. We're approaching the game like any other.”
Senior Matt Kline, a 6-foot-8 center, leads Central Valley with an average of 13.0 points. Senior guard Jacob St. George is averaging 10.0, with senior guard Mike Sims (9.7) and senior forward Tony Gates (9.6) close behind.
Senior guard Charlie Scharbo (16.5) paces Thomas Jefferson, with senior point guard Zach Talley (12.0) and senior guard Daniel Terpin (10.5) also in double figures. Senior forward Chase Winovich is averaging 8.5 points and a team-leading 10.5 rebounds.
Central Valley's playoff run has been inspired, coach Brandon Ambrose said. After scoring a 20-point victory over West Mifflin in the WPIAL first round, Central Valley, in a span of 15 days, has beaten Montour, Thomas Jefferson and Chartiers Valley to win the WPIAL title and Mars in the PIAA first round.
“We've played four pretty good teams in a row,” Ambrose said. “That's a tribute to our kids. When you win them all, that's really hard to do.”
Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.