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Beaver Falls sophomore Thomas scores 28 in playoff win

| Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2007

OHARA TOWNSHIP -- The way Freeport's boys basketball players rested their hands on their knees in the fourth quarter told the story Tuesday night.

Beaver Falls wore down Freeport in the final period and won, 82-73, in the first round of the WPIAL Class AA playoffs at Fox Chapel High School.

"Fatigue set us back a little bit," Freeport coach Mike Beale said. "Your heart can only carry you so long."

Beaver Falls advances to the Class AA quarterfinals, where it will meet Carlynton on Saturday at a site and time to be determined.

The Yellowjackets pulled within four, 56-52, on a Brian Zimmerman bucket at the beginning of the fourth quarter. But the Tigers answered with a 9-2 run, making it a 65-54 game.

Freeport, which had erased an 11-point deficit in the third quarter, battled back with a 13-4 run. Brady Sherrieb capped the run with a 3-pointer from about 4 feet behind the arc.

It was Sherrieb's fifth and final 3 of the night, and it made it a 69-64 game with 1:48 remaining. Beaver Falls outscored Freeport, 13-9, the rest of the way to secure the victory.

The game saw 13 lead changes, 10 of which came in the first half. Sherrieb tied the game at 45-45 with the second of his three third-quarter 3-pointers.

On Beaver Falls' next possession, 6-foot-3 sophomore Todd Thomas hit two free throws, giving the Tigers the lead for the last time. Thomas scored a game-high 28 points to go along with eight assists.

Beaver Falls outrebounded Freeport, 29-17, and committed four less turnovers. Kenny Cottman scored 20 points and pulled down 10 rebounds for the Tigers. David Phillips added 23 points, eight of which came in the first 3:15 of the fourth quarter.

"We started almost a completely different lineup in the second half," Beaver Falls coach Doug Biega said. "We went smaller, and we put a couple guys out there who could pressure the perimeter."

Beaver Falls opened the third quarter with a 14-4 run. During the run, Thomas slammed the ball twice, thanks to two Freeport turnovers.

Sherrieb hit his first 3-pointers of the night in the game-tying 13-4 run that followed. Sherrieb finished with a team-high 24 points.

"Maybe it was our depth. Maybe it was our conditioning. But these are the kinds of games we're used to playing," Biega said.

Freeport ends its season at 13-9, and Sherrieb and fellow seniors Zimmerman, Nate Kotecki, Cory Massart, Chris Tagmyer and Matt Giesler end their high school basketball careers.

"It didn't hit me yet. It's going to take a couple days," Sherrieb said. "I know we played our best out there. I'm not disappointed going away with a loss like this."

Zimmerman added 22 points and nine rebounds, while Kotecki chipped in with 10 points.

"It's so hard to see these seniors go," Beale said. "We've been together with these guys for four years now. They laid it on the line tonight."

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