HIGH SCHOOL BOYS' BASKETBALL ROUNDUP: Indiana survives scare, remains on title track
Indiana had a dangerously close call, but saved its WPIAL Section 1-AAA title hopes, avoiding an upset loss by edging last-place Valley, 48-47, in a boys’ basketball game Wednesday night in New Kensington.
“I’ve been around long enough to know that sometime during the year in the section schedule, you’re going to have a basketball game like this,” said Indiana coach Greg Lezanic, who is in his 21st season overall.
“It sounds simplistic, but either you win or you lose. We were fortunate that we came out on top.”
Indiana (17-1, 8-1 section) plays host to Mars (10-6, 7-1) on Friday. The Indians handed Mars its only section loss, 71-66, on Jan. 8. An Indiana victory Friday would nearly sew up its first section title in 16 years — provided it doesn’t stumble like it almost did Wednesday.
“Tough place to play,” Lezanic said.
“They were putting the ball in the basket. They were well-coached, very disciplined. They took advantage of all their opportunities, it seemed, and we just struggled putting the ball in the basket all night.”
With Indiana up 46-45 in the final minute, the Indians missed four free throws, but grabbed two offensive rebounds to maintain possession. Blake Shields finally made his two shots with 12 seconds to go to give Indiana a 48-45 lead. Valley airballed a 3-pointer, then made an inconsequential layup at the buzzer to reach the final score.
Riley Stapleton and Dylan Stapleton scored 11 points each to lead the Indians. Caleb Davis scored 11 points for Valley (6-10, 2-8).
“Not nearly our best performance, that’s for sure,” Lezanic said.
“This is just one of those survival games. Between not getting the proper preparation before and another big game on Friday, you don’t want to look ahead, but it’s human nature to have that Friday night game in the back of their minds. And boy, we were fortunate. If we don’t win tonight, Friday night doesn’t mean as much.”
HOMER-CENTER 71, SALTSBURG 49: Homer-Center rolled past Saltsburg in a Heritage Conference boys’ game at the HomerDome.
“I was worried tonight, because this was the only game we didn’t have any preparation for,” Homer-Center coach Bob Rado said. “I guess all the schools are in this situation.”
The Wildcats had not practiced since Sunday evening. The rust didn’t show, as Joe Capitosti led the way with 21 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Darren Carr had 17 points, seven rebounds, six steals and three assists, and John Capitosti added 11 points and five assists.
Three players — Carr, Joe Capitosti and Aaron Berezansky — each made two 3-pointers for the Wildcats.
Steve Richards paced Saltsburg with 19 points, and Ian Satler scored 16.
Homer-Center (16-1, 11-0 conference) visits United on Friday. Saltsburg (7-9, 5-6) is next scheduled to play Wednesday at Ligonier Valley.
MARION CENTER 62, LIGONIER VALLEY 32: Todd Fetsko’s 26 points were almost enough on their own for host Marion Center, as the Stingers’ defense took center stage in a Heritage Conference victory.
Marion Center held Ligonier Valley to just two points in the first quarter and 11 in the first half — holding a 29-11 lead at the break.
“We played our typical 3-2 zone,” Marion Center assistant coach Nathan Johns said. “We played the best defense we’ve played all year.”
Jordan Jones’ 10 points was the high for Ligonier Valley.
Jake Bothell added 11 points for Marion Center.
Both teams play road games Friday. Marion Center (11-6, 8-3) travels to Northern Cambria, and Ligonier Valley (5-10, 4-6) visits Penns Manor.