Greensburg Central Catholic advances to state quarterfinals
Greensburg Central Catholic senior guard Billy Hipp couldn't have asked for a better night Thursday in the PIAA Class AA second round at North Allegheny.
First, Hipp scored a game-high 22 points and helped Greensburg Central Catholic advance to the quarterfinals with a 73-57 victory against District 10 champion West Middlesex.
Second, he found his shooting touch from the foul line, going 11 for 11, all in the fourth quarter.
Third, on a personal note, he got revenge against West Middlesex, which knocked out his Bishop McCort team out of the playoffs in 2013. Hipp transferred to Greensburg Central Catholic prior to the season.
“I knew I was feeling it from the free-throw line,” Hipp said. “I knew if I continued to knock them down, we were going to extend our lead. For some reason, I've been struggling at the line this season.”
The Centurions will play Beaver Falls on Saturday.
Greensburg Central Catholic, which led 36-23 at halftime, had to withstand a second-half rally by West Middlesex. But Hipp and Christian Hyland (15 points) hit clutch 3-pointers in the third quarter to stop the run. It was Hipp's 3-pointer that gave GCC a 53-42 lead after three quarters.
Things got interesting early in the fourth quarter as West Middlesex pulled to within 53-47 on a 3-pointer by Isaac Williams (15 points) with 7:12 left.
But Hipp was fouled attempting a 3-pointer and made all three attempts to push the lead back to 56-47. Hipp then stole the ball and whipped a pass to Brian Graytok (17 points) for an easy layup and a 58-47 lead. West Middlesex (21-6) never threatened again.
“We came out with a lot of intensity,” Hipp said. “It was personal for me because West Middlesex beat my team last year, so I wanted to beat them real bad. We came with defensive intensity; we moved the ball well and ran the floor in transition.”
Both coaches agreed foul trouble against West Middlesex big man Trey Staunch in the first half played a key role.
“When Trey got into foul trouble, it knocked the wind out of our sails,” West Middlesex coach Chad Mild said. “We haven't had to deal with him being in foul trouble all year.
“I thought if we could keep it in single digits coming into halftime, it would have made us feel better. Their pressure bothered us, and they moved the lead from 9 to 15 in under 40 seconds.”
GCC coach Greg Bisignani added: “When Staunch got his third foul, they were a completely different team. They're still really good and well coached, but he's a big presence inside and we were able to get some separation when he was out.”
Greensburg Central Catholic led 20-14 after one quarter and extended it to 36-21 before a buzzer-beater by Josh Porterfield (14 points) cut the lead to 36-23. Staunch finished with 20 points, 15 in the second half, and 12 rebounds.
“We were hoping to wear them down some; we felt we had better depth than they did,” Bisignani said. “We were hoping their big kids would have a hard time getting up and down the floor. We wanted to get after them and wear them out by the fourth quarter.”
West Middlesex finished 6 for 24 from the 3-point line.
“Shooting a lot of threes is uncharacteristic of us,” Mild said. “We had 24, and we never shoot that many in a game. We got out of our game and GCC had something to do with that.”