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GCC's win spans 3 hours, 2 sites

| Wednesday, March 5, 2008

It took more than three hours and two venues, but Greensburg Central Catholic finally came away with a 55-50 overtime victory over Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in a PIAA Class AA second-round playoff game.

At North Allegheny High School, Greensburg Central was rolling along with a 38-32 advantage with 6:30 left in the fourth quarter. Suddenly, the lights went out after a vehicle hit a transformer that serves the McCandless school.

Game officials, led by site manager Dan O'Neil, quickly went to work and contacted North Hills High School officials to see if the game could be moved to that site. The fallback plan was to resume the game tonight at Fox Chapel. After the move was arranged, players, coaches, officials and almost 2,000 fans made the eight-mile trip to Ross Township.

After a delay of one hour and 35 minutes, play resumed and the Centurions struggled to get back on track. They commited six turnovers before getting off a shot that was blocked, letting the Chargers back into the game, as a field goal and four consecutive free throws by Micki Cerchiaro gave OLSH a 39-38 lead.

"That break killed us," Centurions coach Rich Rosensteel said. "In the meantime, they had a chance to get their kids fired up. It's easier to chase someone from behind than to be the frontrunner."

"That break probably helped us a little bit as far as getting our stamina back," OLSH coach Don Eckerle said. "Our kids were super loose, and our kids acted like we were up six instead of down by six."

Greensburg Central Catholic appeared to be in the driver's seat again, leading 43-39 with 1:06 to go in the fourth quarter, but a pair of Centurions turnovers allowed the Chargers to tie the score with 34 seconds left in regulation. Both teams had the chance to win it in the closing seconds of the fourth quarter, but neither team could get a quality shot.

In overtime, a 3-pointer by Alex Froats gave the Chargers a 50-49 lead with 36 seconds left. But a three-point play by Lauren DePalma with 20 seconds to go gave the Centurions the lead for good.

Greensburg Central (19-8) moves on to the quarterfinal round Friday against Johnstown Bishop McCort at a time and site to be determined. McCort defeated Erie's Villa Maria Academy, 50-45, Tuesday.

OLSH ended its season at 26-3, as Eckerle said goodbye to four starters.

"This group set the standard for OLSH basketball as far as knowing what it takes to be winners," Eckerle said.

Cerchiaro led all scorers with 21 points and 12 rebounds in her final game with the Chargers.

Erica Keto and Megan DePrimio led the Centurions with 18 points each, as Keto evaluated the bizarre set of circumstances surrounding the game.

"I can't explain it; it was just crazy," said Keto, the only senior on the team. "We got back in sync, and we won, so that's the positive thing."

Greensburg Central is 25-11 all-time in PIAA Class AA play, but victories Nos. 24 and 25 have been unforgattable for Rosensteel.

"First it takes us seven hours to get up to Clarion in the snow Friday, now tonight, the daggone lights go out," Rosensteel said. "But the resiliency of my kids is ridiculous -- they're just tremendous."

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