Greensburg Central Catholic came into Saturday’s PIAA Class AA first round game against Bald Eagle Area favored to win. And it delivered.
Greensburg Central Catholic opened the game on a 6-0 run, received 29 second quarter points and used it size and transition offense to fly past BEA 92-59 at Hempfield High School.
The win advances the Centurions (23-3) into the second round of the tournament. The WPIAL runner-up will face West Middlesex (21-5), which defeated Neshannock 76-66. The loss ends BEA’s season at 20-6.
“I really thought we had a chance against them,” BEA coach Bill Butterworth said. “They came out and showed us that we didn’t.”
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The game turned for BEA early when Jason Jones picked up his third foul with three minutes still to play in the first quarter. After that, it was all Greensburg Central Catholic, which received eight quick points from Brian Graytok to go up 14-5. BEA trailed 18-11 at the end of the first period.
“It took away some of our rhythm,” Butterworth said of Jones’ foul trouble. “Noah Chambers went in and did a heck of a job. We we just a step behind all noght.”
Graytok scored four of the Centurions’ next seven points to open the second quarter. Christian Hyland also had a 3-pointer nter to open the quarter as Greensburg Central Catholic outscored the Eagles 29-19 in the period to take a 47-30 lead into halftime.
“I watched tapes on them, but on the tapes their speed was hard to judge,” Butterworth said. “Their speed was factor, especially in the first half.”
The second half went much the same way after an initial push be the Eagles. BEA scored the first six points of the half to get within 11 before the Centurions pulled away.
“They hit two threes and stole the ball and made a layup,” Butterworth said. “You could see that deflated us.”
Graytok scored nine of his game-leading 25 points in the second half. Billy Hipp also added seven in the third quarter to finish with 15 points.
Bryan Greene led the Eagles with 19 points, making 6 of his 9 shots from the field and 7 of his 10 free throws. He was the only BEA player to score in double figures. Bryce Greene added nine and Chambers has seven.
“In the first half we turned the ball over too much,” said Butterworth. “In the second half, we had to scramble and they just drove past us.”
Butterworth lauded his squad.
“It was a great bunch of kids,” he said. “We ended up with another 20-win season. Two years in a row, we won the Mountain League or shared it and made the state playoffs.”
He said his squad will definitely miss seniors Bryan Greene, Bryce Greene, Ryan Dyke, Jeffrey Bennett and Sammy Connor.
“They were great leaders,” he said. “I feel like playing against them in practice has made the team coming back contenders again next year.”