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Springdale bows out against Sewickley Academy in WPIAL Class A first round

| Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016, 10:42 p.m.

Springdale waited five seasons to get back into the playoffs, so waiting one more day because of Tuesday's wintry weather wasn't a problem. Battling icy sidewalks and snowy roads is one thing, but the Dynamos couldn't avoid a slippery slope of their own.

No. 15 seed Springdale fell to No. 2 Sewickley Academy, 63-36, in the first round of the WPIAL Class A boys basketball playoffs at Northgate.

“We didn't back down and we weren't afraid of the private school, Sewickley Academy thing,” Springdale coach Seth Thompson said. “We put up a good fight, and they were the more talented team.”

Sewickley Academy advanced to play No. 7 seed Vincentian Academy on Friday in the quarterfinals at a site and time to be determined.

It was clear from the beginning that Sewickley Academy (21-2) had talent and experience, but Springdale (9-12) came out in the first half and played a spirited, aggressive 3-2 zone defense that gave Panthers shooters fits.

“We had some guys who played very well, and we had some guys who played nervous,” Sewickley Academy coach Win Palmer said. “I told them, ‘You've got to figure it out.' The beauty is that this is supposed to be fun, but if you're going to put the weight of the world on your shoulders there is nothing that anybody else can do.”

Sewickley Academy's crisp passing and ball movement had the Dynamos chasing shadows for most of the night. The Panthers stretched their lead to 25-14 just before halftime.

“Give credit to Sewickley: They made us take bad shots and made us throw it away,” Thompson said.

Michael Zolniercyk opened the second half with a 3-pointer to give the Dynamos a much-needed spark. But again, the Panthers had too many shooters to account for.

“We kind of stopped screening on the ball because we noticed they were trapping,” Thompson said about his halftime adjustments.

Nate Ridgeway scored 10 of his game-high 19 points in the second half to boost the Panthers. Scott Brown and Chris Groetsch added 10 points apiece. The Springdale defense held Groetsch below his 20-point average.

Alex Pane scored a team-high 13 points for Springdale, under his season average of 21. He made 1 of 4 second-half 3-pointers.

“I gave him the green light because he's a scorer, and you have to give your scorer the green light,” Thompson said.

“We're getting better,” Thompson added. “This started three or four years ago. It's been a slow and gradual progression, as it is in public schools, and I feel like we turned the corner.”

William Whalen is a freelance writer.

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