Vincentian boys win, sets up showdown with Lincoln Park
Vincentian Academy didn't show any signs of fatigue Tuesday in its 94-66 win over Homer-Center in the second round of the PIAA Class A playoffs Tuesday at Hempfield.
Vincentian (24-3) will play WPIAL champion Lincoln Park on Friday at a time and location to be determined.
After losing 110-95 to Monessen in the WPIAL semifinals, Vincentian had nearly two weeks off before its first PIAA playoff game, a 95-85 win over Cochranton.
They made the most of the rest.
“We may have been getting a little tired,” Vincentian coach George Yokitis said. “We go about 10 deep, but to play the way we do, they're just children. Maybe I'm wrong to play this way, but they seem to like it.”
The rest was especially important for junior guard Ryan Wolf, who scored a game-high 30 points for Vincentian.
He had missed time with a back injury toward the end of the season and was clearly hampered in the WPIAL playoffs.
“I've been going to physical therapy, and I feel a lot better now,” Wolf said. “I've been doing that for a couple weeks, and they take good care of me. It's just about keeping my abs strong.”
Jay Cortese added 25 points, Jim Kenna 14 and Kevin Fischer 12 to lead Vincentian to its first PIAA quarterfinal appearance since 2011. Vincentian was eliminated in the second round by Bishop Carroll last season and Visionquest in 2012.
Cortese has helped carry the scoring load in Wolf's absence.
“Coach told me that everyone has a job within the team, and he told me my specific job,” Cortese said. “I kept working on it and working on it.
“Doing your specific job is what makes you successful.”
Vincentian was on pace to score 100 points for its sixth time this season and looked to be running away with the game, leading 54-40 at halftime.
But Homer-Center (23-4) — the third seed from District 6 — wouldn't go away and went on a 10-0 run in the third quarter to pull within 61-56.
After a timeout, Vincentian's press defense forced a spree of turnovers, and the Royals countered with a 13-0 run to close the quarter and all but seal the game.
“We said, ‘Calm down and stick to what we do. We're a better team than this,' ” Yokitis said. “We started to attack their zone better.
“We got on a little run there with a bunch of steals. That's what we live for, little spurts.”
Lincoln Park and Vincentian were the top two seeds entering the WPIAL playoffs.
Having to take on the top-ranked team in the state doesn't intimidate the Royals.
“We're just going to come back to the gym tomorrow and get focused,” Cortese said. “We know they're tall. We know they're pretty good athletes, but we can take them.”
Joe Capitosti led Homer-Center with 18 points.
Gary Horvath is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.