Valley works extra session to make playoffs
Three days ago, Valley's playoff hopes looked awfully bleak.
But victories the past two nights and a Deer Lakes loss to Hampton on Monday have enabled the Vikings to sneak into the postseason.
Valley secured the school's 26th playoff berth in its 43-year history Tuesday night with a thrilling, 68-60 overtime victory at Kittanning.
The Vikings (9-13, 5-7) are tied with Deer Lakes for fourth place in the section. Since the teams split their season series, both will go to the Class AAA playoffs.
Playoff pairings will be issued at 7 p.m. tonight at the Embassy Suites in Moon.
Tom Weremeychik had a career-high 28 points. The 6-foot-4 sophomore made eight 3-pointers. Junior Cameron Chambers hit five 3-pointers en route to an 18-point performance for Valley.
"We've been trying to get Tom to do that all year," Valley coach Vern Benson said. "But in fairness to Tom, we've got to get him the ball. It's never easy to win here, and it never will be."
"They just did a good job," Kittanning coach Bill Henry said. "We knew they were going to shoot from the outside, (so) we targeted him (Weremeychik). We'd have a hand up, but he'd just shoot over it."
Weremeychik scored 11 points in the first quarter, as Valley took a 15-3 lead. But Kittanning remained within striking distance, keeping its deficit in single digits.
The Vikings took a 57-51 lead on Weremeychik's 3-pointer with 2:03 left. A backcourt violation on Dante DiCarolis with 1:20 left led to a basket by all-state football player Bo Bowser. In the next sequence, an inbounds toss glanced off the shoulder of Andrew Kanaan, and Nathan Stolitza grabbed the loose ball and made a layup to tie the game, 57-57, with 47 seconds to go.
Valley was holding for a final shot in regulation. Chambers' miss was fought to a stalemate by Geoff Fuquay and Mike Hickman. With the possession arrow favoring Kittanning with 4.3 seconds to go, the Wildcats had a chance to win it.
Stolitza, however, had to settle for an off-balance shot at the buzzer to force overtime.
Weremeychik's final 3-pointer of the night gave the Vikings the lead for good, 60-57, a minute into overtime.
"I never knew I could shoot like that, but it helped us get in the playoffs," Weremeychik said.
Kittanning shot just 1 for 8 in the extra session.
Kanaan left the game twice with knee injuries, but insisted on getting back in the lineup and tallied three foul shots in the overtime.
"It's a brand new season now," said Benson. "Everything's 0-0 at this point. If we get hot and shoot well, we might surprise some people."
Benson was pleased with Fuquay's all-around game; 12 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists.
Dylan Klingensmith, in his final game, tallied 21 points, while Stolitza added 19.
"Every game's a tough game in this section, and you've got to give everybody credit," Henry said.
Kittanning finished 0-12 in the section, 6-15 overall.