Belle Vernon unable to stop West Mifflin
Belle Vernon did a good job keeping West Mifflin point guard Charles Thompson-Lawson in check during the first half of Friday's WPIAL Class AAA quarterfinal game at Baldwin.
But the senior took over in the second half, scoring 17 of his team-high 22 points, and West Mifflin (14-7) pulled away for a 60-51 victory against Belle Vernon (17-7).
The Titans next will play Hampton in the semifinals Tuesday at a site and time to be determined. Hampton defeated Montour, 52-28, yesterday. West Mifflin also clinched a berth in the PIAA playoffs; Belle Vernon must hope West Mifflin wins for its season to continue.
"We had a very tough third quarter," Belle Vernon coach John Dudzinski said. "I thought we played well, (but) they played better.
"We did a good job on (West Mifflin forward C.J.) Hester, but we didn't account for the point guard. He was the difference."
Belle Vernon trailed, 19-10, in the opening quarter, but battled back to tie the score 23-all at halftime.
Josh Pohlot scored 12 of his 22 points in the first half, and Cory Williams scored eight of his 10 points in the first quarter. Pohlot also had 12 rebounds.
"We've had different players step up all season," West Mifflin coach Lance Maha said. "We watched what they did defensively to C.J. (Hester) in the first half, and we adjusted. Charles hit a couple big 3-pointers, and Robert Dillard hit one. That gave us a cushion."
Maha said Hester isn't 100 percent healthy even though he finished with 17 points.
Belle Vernon grabbed a 29-25 lead early in the third quarter on 3-pointers by Matt Naylor and Ethan Cieply.
But West Mifflin went on a 12-2 run to grab a 37-31 lead and then scored the final seven points of the quarter to extend its lead to 44-33 heading into the final eight minutes. Thompson-Lawson scored 10 points during those runs to pace the Titans.
"I was really pleased how we attacked in the third quarter," Maha said. "Players on this team get overlooked because of C.J. We played in a tough section and, other than Chartiers Valley, we felt we could play with anyone in Class AAA.
"The one thing this team has been doing well is guarding and rebounding the ball."
Belle Vernon never quit battling in the fourth quarter. The Leopards pulled to within 51-47 on a 3-pointer by Cieply (11 points) with 1:47 left. But Thompson-Lawson and Mike Roman hit clutch free throws to put the game away.
Thompson-Lawson was 7 for 8 from the line in the fourth quarter.
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