GS dominates Laurel Highlands
If No. 5 Greensburg Salem intended on making an impression on the WPIAL basketball committee, it picked a great game to do so.
Greensburg Salem may not win the Section 3-AAA title, but it certainly played like one when it routing section-leading and No. 4 Laurel Highlands, 68-39, on Tuesday night.
The host Golden Lions (20-3, 11-2) dominated game from the start and never allowed Laurel Highlands (17-5, 12-1) to find its rhythm.
"You name the facet of the game, and we got whipped in it," Laurel Highlands coach Rick Hauger said. "There was a total lack of focus. There is no excuse for them to get that many offensive rebounds. Early in the game, we just didn't finish anything, and it seemed to snowball."
The score was tied at 6 late in the first quarter when Greensburg Salem's Aaron Allen (13 rebounds) and Wes Siko connected on back-to-back buckets, and Zack Ruffner drained a 3-pointer for a 13-8 lead by the end of the quarter.
Greensburg Salem dominated us in every phase of the game," Hauger said. "They're faster than we are, and we started off slowly."
Greensburg Salem opened the second quarter with a 13-2 run and raced out to a 26-10 lead. Paul Matthews, who finished with a game-high 19 points and pulled down 10 rebounds, scored eight points in the quarter. Siko, who finished with 16 points, added seven. The Golden Lions led, 30-15, at halftime.
"We felt we had to become more up-tempo than we normally are," Greensburg Salem coach Paul Sapotichne said. "They're so big, we couldn't allow them to set things up. We really worked hard in practice and really tried to get up and down the floor offensively.
"Defensively, we put good pressure on them. We thought we could exploit their ball-handling. We normally don't come out and press."
But the press worked like a charm. Laurel Highlands turned the ball over 19 times -- 10 in the first half -- and shot poorly. Greensburg Salem also won the battle on the boards (44-33), something Laurel Highlands dominated a month ago.
"When we played them the first time, they pounded the ball inside," Sapotichne said. "We couldn't allow that.
"We're really been playing good basketball, and the players are shooting the ball better."
Freshman point guard Chris Klimchock, who handed out nine assists, got hot in the third quarter by scoring 10 of his 12 points as Greensburg Salem pushed its lead to 53-23.
Greensburg Salem led, 66-32, in the final quarter before Laurel Highlands finished strong.
"I didn't have a good feeling about the game going in, to be honest with you," Hauger said. "They're quicker than us, and we had to make some adjustments.
"We played a terrible game against a good team. We just have to move on."
Gregg Forse led Laurel Highlands with 12 points and 10 rebounds, while sophomore Kaleb Ramsey, who scored 23 points in the first meeting, was held to five. Hauger said Ramsey has been sick the past week.
Laurel Highlands can clinch the section title outright with a win at home Friday against Belle Vernon. Greensburg Salem tries to finish strong with win at home against Brownsville.