Rochester gets victory on last-second shot
The Greensburg Central Catholic basketball team could only watch in disbelief.
The Centurions were poised to score the winning basket in Saturday afternoon's Class AA boys quarterfinal at Hampton.
Instead, a deflection and steal near the Greensburg Central hoop resulted in a layup by Rochester's Trey Johnson just before time expired to give the Rams a 44-42 victory over the Centurions.
Rochester (22-2) heads to the WPIAL semifinals to play Shady Side Academy Wednesday at a time and site to be determined. It will be the Rams' first appearance in the WPIAL semifinals since 1996 when Rochester lost the finals to Duquesne.
Despite the loss, Greensburg Central (18-4) has qualified for the PIAA tournament and will see action either March 9 or March 13, depending on Rochester's progress for the remainder of the WPIAL tournament.
With the score tied at 42-all, Jesse Reed was set to give the Centurions the lead with 1:13 left in the game. Reed's drive from the left side was halted by a travelling call that evoked a strong reaction from the nearby GCC bench. But Rochester couldn't break the tie after E.J. Blackwell missed a shot. The scramble for the rebound resulted in a stalemate, with the possession arrow favoring the Centurions with 54.8 seconds to go.
At the eight-second mark, Reed drove from the right side of the lane, but Terry Gettings swatted the ball to Giovanni Ellis, who headed downcourt. Ellis fed Trey Johnson, who released the ball on the right side of the Rochester hoop just as the scoreboard clock went under one second.
"I looked at the clock before the layup, and I saw time running down, and I put it up," Johnson said of his only basket of the game.
"I don't know what to say, we're lucky to be here," said Rochester coach Paul Long, shaking his head in amazement. "We're a nice team that works hard together, but sometimes you're better off being lucky."
The GCC players walked out of their locker room stunned more than 15 minutes after the game.
"The kids worked so hard to come down and lose it like that," Centurions coach Dr. Greg Bisignani said.
Forgotten in the wild finish was a 27-4 run by Greenburg Central that started in the second period. After Artrell Allen's basket with 5:19 left in the second quarter put Rochester ahead, 22-8, the Centurions outscored the Rams, 14-2, to trail by just 24-22 at the half.
A basket by P.J. McLaughlin with 18 seconds left in the second period cut the Rochester lead to two. Five third-quarter baskets by the 6-foot-6 McLaughlin, with three coming on putbacks, gave the Centurions a 35-26 advantage with 2:24 left in the third period.
"We had three in foul trouble, and that's not normal forus," Long said. "It backfired when all three had to go to the bench, and we're not that deep."
McLaughlin led the Centurions with 14 points, while Reed added 13.
Now, Greensburg Central faces as much as a 10- to 14-day layoff.
"I think the kids believe in themselves, they practice hard, and they keep getting better," Bisignani said. "They never give up, and I think that's a wonderful characteristic that's going to help them the rest of their lives."
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