Bishop Guilfoyle stuns Greensburg Central Catholic
Coach Ed Pultz never thought Greensburg Central Catholic was in danger of losing its PIAA playoff opener Friday night -- until he glanced at the game clock with 14 seconds to go.
"I saw we were down by eight points, and I thought to myself, What are we gonna do now?" Pultz said.
Greensburg Central didn't have a miracle rally in its game plan. Bishop Guilfoyle pulled off a stunning 39-30 upset in the first round of the PIAA Class AA girls basketball playoffs at Highlands High School.
"It's a rough end, losing the first playoff game for states," GCC forward Lea Stern said. "We thought we were going to go the whole way through. It's a tough end."
GCC (22-6) went into the game riding a 12-game winning streak, which included a victory in the WPIAL title game. It was ranked No. 1 in the state and was a heavy favorite to capture the PIAA crown.
Even though Bishop Guilfoyle (22-8) was just the third-seeded team out of District 6, Pultz knew the Marauders were dangerous.
"I knew we were going to be in for a dogfight," he said. "I knew that no matter what, they weren't going to give up. For what I saw on film, I thought they were one of the best teams in the western side of the (PIAA) bracket."
Guilfoyle outscored GCC 14-7 in the fourth quarter -- even though it failed to make a bucket in the final 5:21 of the game. The Marauders made 10-of-13 foul shots in the final period, including an 8-for-8 effort by junior guard Angela Greaser.
Greaser, who only practiced once in the week before the game because of a knee injury, finished with a game-high 14 points. She scored her only field goal with 2:57 left in the first period -- a strong dribble-drive layup -- then canned all 12 of her free throws.
For the game, Guilfoyle made 17-of-21 foul shots. Greensburg Central went to the line eight times and got five points.
"That's a huge disparity in an eight-point game," Pultz said. "We were hoping to get to the foul line a little bit more. But, at times, we got a little bit out of sync out there."
That was most evident in the second quarter, when GCC squandered a 15-5 lead. The Centurions were outscored 10-4 in the period and led by just two points at halftime.
During the break, Pultz begged his team to press its significant height advantage and do a better job of rebounding.
GCC began coming up with loose balls in the third but missed its first four shots and turned the ball over twice before finally scoring. By then, Guilfoyle was up 21-19.
"We were putting so much effort into attacking the boards, but we weren't finishing," he said. "That's frustrating."
As time wound down in the third, Guilfoyle landed a killer blow. Katie Gartmann escaped GCC's pressing defense and launched a twisting, running jumper that slipped through the net at the buzzer. Guilfoyle led for good, 25-23.
"It was a big shot for them," Pultz said. "It juiced them up."
Stern made a pair of difficult, off-balance layups to pull GCC within 32-29 with two minutes to go in the game. But the Centurions missed their final four shots of the game, then looked on helplessly as Greaser made eight foul shots to ice it.
"We didn't know what to do because we're not used to that situation," Stern said. "We're a win team. We go for the win right away."
"It's very shocking. No matter what plays we tried, we couldn't pull through."