Central Valley rallies past Farrell to reach PIAA semifinals

Chris Harlan
| Friday, March 14, 2014, 10:33 p.m.

Central Valley would prefer a comfortable lead, but so far that just hasn't happened.

For the third time in their last four games, the Warriors used a resilient second-half rally to win. Central Valley overcame a 16-point halftime deficit to beat District 10 champion Farrell, 69-62, on Friday night in a PIAA Class AAA quarterfinal at New Castle.

“We don't want to come back; we want to get up early,” said senior Tony Gates, who scored 12 of his 18 points after halftime. “But we've got to do what we've got to do to win.”

Lately, that's meant late-game rallies.

In the PIAA second round, Central Valley trailed Thomas Jefferson by seven points midway through the fourth quarter. In the WPIAL final, the team rallied to beat Chartiers Valley in double overtime.

“This is one special group,” Central Valley senior Matt Kline said. “I don't know how, but I think every playoff game we've been behind to start by five or 10. But we always find a way to come back.”

Michael Sims scored 16 points and Kline added 11 for Central Valley (25-3), which will face District 3 champion Susquehanna Township on Tuesday in the semifinals. Susquehanna beat Lancaster Mennonite, 75-57. The site and time has not been announced.

“We don't get rattled down the stretch,” said CV coach Brandon Ambrose, who credited the composure of Sims, the team's senior point guard.

Malik Miller led Farrell (24-4) with 21 points, and Chris James had 15.

With physical play and pressure defense, the teams combined for 52 fouls.

Farrell had three players foul out. Central Valley had three starters in foul trouble.

“Their experience really showed over our experience tonight,” Farrell coach Roland Shannonhouse said.

With 5:46 left in the fourth, Central Valley trailed 54-43. But Farrell went more than five minutes without a basket, and the Warriors mounted a 21-2 run.

Consecutive 3-pointers by Central Valley's Jacob St. George and John George forced a 54-54 tie. A layup and foul shot by Gates gave Central Valley its first lead, 57-55 with 3 minutes left. With Farrell unable to make a shot, five points from Kline pushed the lead to seven.

“In the first half, I wasn't as aggressive as I should have been,” said Kline, a 6-foot-8 forward who scored 10 second-half points. “In the second half, I knew that I was bigger than them and stronger than them and that I could get every rebound out there.”

With 52 seconds left, Central Valley led 62-55.

“We were angry with the way we'd played in the first half,” Gates said. “We don't want to go home.”

The second quarter was Central Valley's problem. The Warriors trailed by only one point after the first quarter but were outscored 24-9 in second. Farrell was quicker, more aggressive and led 38-22 at halftime.

But that changed. Central Valley became more aggressive and began the second half with an 11-0 run. It started with four free throws by Kline and a layup and foul shot by Gates. When Sims made a pull-up shot from the left block, Farrell's lead had dwindled to 38-33.

“I thought we had them on the ropes,” Shannonhouse said, “and they just continued to fight. They took the game to another level in the first four minutes of the third quarter, and we didn't respond. I think our guys panicked.”

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