No. 3 Sewickley Academy cruises past Jeannette boys
Sewickley Academy got the better of Jeannette for a second straight postseason, and it didn't take a 21-point comeback this time around.
Chris Groetsch scored 21 points, including 15 in the third quarter, and the third-seeded Panthers ran away from No. 6 Jeannette, 80-51, in a WPIAL Class 2A boys basketball quarterfinal Friday at Northgate.
Sewickley Academy (18-4) needed a 28-6 run to close last year's semifinal meeting to top the Jayhawks (12-12) at the buzzer, but this time around, it was a 26-11 first quarter that put the game squarely in the Panthers' hands.
The Panthers advance to face No. 2 Bishop Canevin (19-4) in the semifinals Tuesday at a time and site to be determined.
Tempo played a factor in the Panthers' game plan, as they tried at every available chance to push the floor. SA scored 26 in the opening quarter and 28 in the third behind Groetsch's big quarter, and the Panthers steadily pulled away to a 70-39 lead to begin the fourth quarter.
“We're a running team, and we felt like with (Jeannette's) big, strong athletes, if we got locked into a half-court game, their physical strength could make a difference,” Sewickley Academy coach Win Palmer said.
For Jeannette, Mike Pompei scored 20 points, and the senior guard surpassed the 1,000-career point mark with a third-quarter 3-pointer. Robert Kennedy was second in scoring for the Jayhawks with eight off the bench.
“I was impressed with the way all eight of (Sewickley's players), and the way they defended,” Jeannette coach Adrian Batts said. “Their size negated a lot of what we were doing, and they switched a lot of the time.
“I thought we did a good job getting back in transition. ... But there were a couple of plays in a row, I think we were down by eight, and they would get an offensive rebound and kick it back out for a 3. That's a swing from eight to 14.”
Sewickley Academy got a big boost off their own bench from freshman guard Isaiah Smith, who scored 16, including 14 in the first half. Nate Ridgeway, who scored the winning basket in the final second last season, added 13 points.
“Our seniors have done a great job helping the freshmen develop, and they're always happy to see them come in like they did tonight and contribute,” Palmer said.
The Panthers are assured of a spot in the state tournament with the win, while Jeannette's hope of playing on rest with Sewickley Academy advancing.
“We're going to cheer for Sewickley now. I know if Canevin beat them, they must be pretty good, and (Greensburg Central Catholic) from our section is tough, so there's going to be at least one really good team left out of the championship,” Batts said.