Wilmington’s postseason hopes extinguished
Wilmington (56) Vs. Sharpsville (59)
Feb 19, 2011
By DAN IRWIN
Darryl Pace went out with a flourish.
But he went out all the same.
Wilmington High needed a win over Region 2-AA champion Sharpsville last night to keep its hopes for PIAA District 10 at-large playoff berth alive. Pace made the Senior Night contest his personal showcase with a career-high 27 points, but the Greyhounds’ season and Pace’s high school career still came to a halt with a 59-56 loss.
Wilmington finished 5-5 in league play and 9-13 overall. The Blue Devils compiled a 9-1 conference mark and a 16-5 overall record in giving former Neshannock head coach Jim Smiley his second championship in as many years at the Sharpsville helm.
“He’s a good player, and you have to plan for him,” Smiley said of Pace. “He’s a force, he’s a big kid, and we don’t have anybody who’s that big.
“He’s a load, and we knew coming into the game that if we gave him his, then we were going to have to shut down everybody which, which I thought we did.”
Indeed, no other Greyhounds managed more than 7 points. Meanwhile, Sharpsville cobbled together a balanced attack, with DeSean Alberti-Brown (15 points), Jon Wilson (13), Tyler Luckey (13) and Anthony Sloan (12) all hitting double digits.
The Blue Devils also won the battle of the boards, with a decisive 32-19 rebounding advantage.
Pace, who came in averaging 12.3 points per game, scored 18 in the first half to help the ’Hounds claim a 32-31 lead at intermission. In the third quarter, though, he netted only three markers, all before the midway point of the period.
Meanwhile, Sharpsville rallied from a 37-35 deficit with a 14-4 run to claim a 49-41 advantage early in the fourth period. Luckey had eight of those points.
“I knew they were going to double (Pace) a little more in the third quarter,” first-year head coach Mike Jeckavitch said, “and then we finally got him open a little more in the fourth and started getting him the ball again.”
Trailing 54-46 with just under three minutes left, Wilmington clawed its way back to within one point on a 10-3 run highlighted by an Anthony Derrick trey and capped by Josh Tekac’s bucket off an inbound pass with 53 seconds to go.
Alberti-Brown made it a three-point game by hitting two foul shots 17 seconds later, but Sharpsville could stretch its advantage no further after Chad Piccirilli and Wilson combined to miss four straight free throws.
The ’Hounds, though, could not take advantage. After getting the ball back with 14 seconds remaining, they turned it over in the paint at the other end of the court.
The Blue Devils then returned the favor on a violation, giving the ’Hounds the ball out of bounds at midcourt with 0.7 seconds showing.
Pace went cross-court on the inbounds pass to Ryan Sager, but Sager’s 3-point try sailed wide of the bucket, preserving the Sharpsville win.
Like his players, Jeckavitch was disappointed with the loss, but he was pleased with what he saw from his young team down the stretch.
“We’ve been working really hard over the last couple of weeks to improve and get better, and we’ve been seeing those strides the last couple of league games,” he said.
“We missed a couple fundamental things tonight, but I saw the growth in our team.
“Early in the season we didn’t play very well. We were 2-4 coming into our last four league games and we knew we’d have to win them all, and we won three out of four. We’re a young team. Hopefully, we can build upon this and make Wilmington not just a football school but a basketball school as well.”