Rochester earns respect in knocking off QV
Rochester coach Paul Long said his players felt a lack of respect when the Rams got a No. 7 seed in the WPIAL Class AA playoffs.
Well, they earned some respect on Wednesday.
Giovanni Ellis' 17 points and Rochester's pesky defense led the No. 7-seeded Rams to a 60-52 victory over Quaker Valley in a WPIAL Class AA first-round playoff game Wednesday night at North Allegheny.
E.J. Blackwell added 13 points for Rochester, and Terry Gettings had 10. Jasson Adamson scored 14, six of which came on free throws once Quaker Valley began to foul with 1:30 to go.
Though Quaker Valley came in as the No. 10 seed, the Quakers (20-4) were in a similar position as the Rams (21-2). They were both teams with great regular-season records that received lower-than-expected seeds.
Long didn't mind his team's seeding, but he couldn't say the same for his players.
"They get upset, but they do a good job," Long said. "They were upset because they didn't get any respect. So, they figured the only way to get it was to show them."
Quaker Valley's Nigel Gibson led all scorers with 22 points, and both Jon West and Casey Courneen had 10. But Rochester also forced Quaker Valley into 15 turnovers, and took over underneath once West committed his fourth foul at the end of the third quarter.
"They don't realize it. They think our strength's offense," Long said. "It's really our defense, and they do a great job of it."
Quaker Valley led for much of the first half, but the Quakers also committed nine turnovers and missed numerous close-range shots. The Rams took advantage of the breaks and went on an 8-0 run in the final two minutes of the second quarter.
The Quakers led by four, tying their largest margin of the first half, when Nigel Gibson scored a runner with just more than two minutes left to play in the second quarter.
Then, Jasson Adamson and Blackwell hit back-to-back baskets to tie the game at 23, then Terry Slade's putback gave Rochester a 25-23 lead with 40 seconds to go. Ellis then hit two free throws with 6.1 seconds remaining, and the Rams went into the half with a four-point lead.
Rochester carried that momentum through the third quarter, extending its lead to seven with Blackwell's driving floater at the 2:22 mark. At 1:44, though, the lead was just two. Gibson hit a jumper and Courneen drove baseline for a layup, was fouled and made the free throw.
With 1:23 still to go in the third quarter, West, Quaker Valley's 6-foot-5 center, committed his fourth foul, prompting Mastroianni to pull him for the remainder of the third and the start of the fourth quarter.
Without that size underneath, Gettings worked underneath for a layup, then Adamson stole the ball at mid-court and broke for the lay-in to buffer the Rams' lead to eight a minute into the fourth quarter.
Quaker Valley began to foul down the stretch, but Adamson made enough of his free throws to keep his team's lead safe.