Greensburg Central Catholic leaves no doubt
This time, the drama between Greensburg Central Catholic and Jeannette was over in a hurry.
P.J. McLaughlin scored 27 points, and Ben Klimchock added 21 to lead GCC to a 86-65 victory in a rare PIAA playoff game between WPIAL Class AA section rivals Wednesday night at Hempfield.
The 21-point margin of win was in contrast to the team's two regular-season games, when each won on the other's home court in outcomes decided by an average of just two points.
"That's about as well as we've played all year. It was a great team effort," said McLaughlin, who sat out much of the second quarter with two fouls but still finished with 12 first-half points. He scored 15 in the second half, including nine in the fourth quarter, when GCC (21-6) won going away.
"We got great play from our seniors," GCC coach Greg Bisignani said. "They've been in so many big games through the years. I'm sure that the atmosphere here didn't affect them at all."
GCC will meet WPIAL champion Beaver Falls (26-3) in state quarterfinals Saturday.
"If we continue to play together the way we did tonight, we're going to be a tough team from here on out," McLaughlin said.
Against Jeannette, McLaughlin's two free throws gave GCC a 14-12 lead it wouldn't relinquish. The Centurions carried the first quarter, 19-13, and pulled away for a 43-30 halftime advantage.
"I told the kids in the locker room afterwards that there are only eight Double-A teams left in the state, and we're one of them -- two years in a row," Bisignani said. "You know, among that list are Sto-Rox, Beaver Falls, Monessen, and they've all won state championships. Just to be mentioned with that group is a thrill."
GCC, which has never won a state title, reached the PIAA title game last season and is taking a similar path this year.
GCC's lead reached 20 points on two occasions in the third quarter, and Jeannette got no closer than 15 (72-57) the rest of the way.
Dan Sinwell added 19 points for the Centurions.
The Centurions' guard play was especially superb against Jeannette and complimented McLaughlin's imposing inside presence.
"We have five seniors on this team, and we weren't ready yet to go down," Sinwell said.
Demetrious Cox led Jeannette (17-9) with 19 points, and Orlando Morgan added 16.
"Every time we've played them, it was like a dogfight," Jeannette coach Adrian Batts said of the Jayhawks' recent games with GCC. "This time, we had no answer. They just kept hitting shots. That team has a lot of playoff experience, and it showed."