GCC's height plays a giant role in victory
Dr. Greg Bisignani's first game coaching in the WPIAL playoffs for Greensburg Central Catholic was a huge success.
The Centurions (18-3) used their superior height in the paint to knock off California, 65-44, in a Class AA first-round game Wednesday night at Charleroi High School.
The victory puts the Centurions into a quarterfinal-round game against Rochester on Saturday at a site and time to be determined. Rochester defeated Quaker Valley, 60-52, last night.
P.J. McLaughlin, a burly 6-foot-6 sophomore, was a dominant force for Greensburg Central Catholic. He scored a game-high 18 points, and added 10 rebounds and seven blocked shots.
"We knew it would be a challenge," California coach Phil Pergola said. "They're much bigger in person than on film. They were just too big. We were afraid to shoot once we got inside and a lot of our shots came up short."
Greensburg Central Catholic got to see California play a preliminary-round game Saturday at Hempfield, and Bisignani felt his team was ready for the Trojans' matchup zone.
"We moved the ball well," Bisignani said. "We got a lot of open looks, and P.J. is getting better every game. I also thought Jesse (Reed) handled their pressure well, and Jake (Swan) set the tone on defense. The defense played well."
Ben Klimchock scored eight of his 13 points in the opening quarter, and McLaughlin added six as Greensburg Central Catholic grabbed a 19-9 lead.
The lead stretched to 35-22 by halftime. Reed, who had 16 points, scored eight points in the second quarter.
"Other than a few too many turnovers (22), I was pleased with the way we played," Bisignani said. "We rushed things a couple of times, but it was a good win."
Greensburg Central Catholic stretched its lead to 42-26 midway through the third quarter before California made one final run. The Trojans, behind the play of Tyler Van Olst and Brian Fisher, pulled to within 42-30 and had a chance to trim the lead further. But missed free throws and a couple of squandered opportunities allowed Greensburg Central Catholic to fight off the charge.
Greensburg Central Catholic closed the quarter by going on a 10-0 run, and California couldn't recover.
"That 10-0 run killed us," Pergola said. "We were trying to stay close into the fourth quarter and didn't. That's a pretty good team."
Reed had seven rebounds, four steals and four assists for the Centurions, who were 20 for 39 (51 percent) from the field. California was 18 for 58 (31 percent) from the floor.
Greensburg Central Catholic also held a 35-30 edge in rebounds.
"I don't know, but they told me the first playoff game was always the toughest," Bisignani said. "I'm glad I have a veteran like Bill (Swan) on the bench with me."
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