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High School Sports

Notebook: Overflow crowd treated to classic

| Sunday, Feb. 27, 2005

The WPIAL Class AA championship basketball game will be remembered as perhaps the greatest in tournament history, and an overflow crowd watched the end of it.

Fans arriving early for the Mt. Lebanon-Upper St. Clair game were treated to the conclusion of Beaver Falls' 79-78 triple-overtime victory against Beaver County rival Aliquippa. Fans circled the court for most of the three overtimes, held back by portable metal fences during a succession of overtime-forcing baskets by both teams.

A 10-year-old boy from Mt. Lebanon required medical treatment after being overcome by the heat while standing with his mother among the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd.

After the 2-hour, 25-minute classic, fans were caught in a logjam between departing Beaver Falls rooters and those arriving for the Quad A game. The Palumbo Center seats about 5,000 for high school games.

NEAR-RECORD EFFORT

Beaver Falls junior guard Lance Jeter finished with 37 points, barely missing the WPIAL Class AA championship record of 40 set by New Brighton's Hal Bentley in 1980.

EMOTIONS ON THEIR SLEEVES

The Greensburg Central Catholic girls won the WPIAL title two seasons ago and lost in the PIAA semifinals last year, but most of its starterS were facing championship-game pressure for the first time when it lost to Avonworth in the AA championship game.

In an attempt to build team unity, all members of the team had the letters t.r.u.s.t. written on their left arms.

"This year we had a different team, and trust is what brought us this far," Greensburg junior forward Maggie Gibson said. "Trust in each other is what our team is built on.

"It's a lot about picking each other up and helping each other whenever we see someone hanging their head," she said.

The letters stand for: together 'r' unity surpasses theirs.

"It's not just about the five that play, everyone on the bench is part of our unity," senior guard Danielle McRickard said. "Even when we're down by five or 10 points, we don't give up. We play all 32 minutes.

"Trust is something that has to grow," she said. "We know what we can do now and we have success. Avonworth is a great team."

GENDER EQUITY

Moon nailed down the first WPIAL boys-girls championship sweep since Blackhawk in 1999-2000 when the girls beat Montour, 33-29, after the boys beat Yough on Friday night.

"It's a great weekend, great for our community and school spirit," Moon girls coach Tom Szczepankowski said. "I told (boys coach) Jeff Ackermann, we're getting tired of letting you have all the fun."

NOTABLE

Avonworth is the first team since the Carlynton boys in 1992 to win the WPIAL title with an unbeaten record. ... With 55 seconds left and the outcome of the AA title game still in doubt, fans from Avonworth and Greensburg Central gave the teams a sustained standing ovation during a timeout.

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