Wilmington boys move on; qualify for state
Wilmington (65) Vs. Lakeview (52)
Feb 24, 2017
By Corey Corbin
CNHI News Service
FARRELL — The Wilmington High boys basketball team is moving on in the District 10 playoffs.
It doesn't stop there, though. The Greyhounds are headed to the PIAA playoffs for the first time in 25 years, following a 65-52 win over Lakeview in the District 10, Class 2A quarterfinals at E.J. McCluskey Gymnasium.
"Making the state playoffs is big for our program," Wilmington coach Mike Jeckavitch said. "Wilmington hasn't been to the state playoffs since 1992, so this will be my first experience with it and it'll be the kids' first experience with it. It's something our whole school can jump in with us and we can relish it together."
With the win, Wilmington (16-7) will meet Cambridge Springs (20-3) — a 45-31 winner over Maplewood — Tuesday at a site and time to be determined for a spot in the District 10 championship game.
"We've been eyeing (a D-10 championship) and we'll have Cambridge Springs Tuesday night," Jeckavitch said. "That's something we're excited about. We're excited about the challenge and we're not going to back down from it. We know they're big and they're physical. We have two contrasting styles and the way my guys are playing right now, I'll take them any night."
Lakeview ends its season at 6-18.
The Greyhounds watched the 46-32 lead it held midway through the third quarter slowly dissipate as the Sailors made a late-game surge, pulling to within 57-52 with just over two minutes to play.
Wilmington made 5-of-8 free throws down the stretch and Spencer DeMedal scored on a traditional three-point play to close out the scoring.
"All year, we've battled," Jeckavitch said. "We've been tested by the Rocky Groves and the Greenvilles of our section and we really loaded up our schedule early with some hard WPIAL teams like Laurel and Neshannock. They knew what the magnitude of this game was and they knew where we want to go with this program. This was a big win for us, because we didn't play well the last time we played them. Tonight, everyone had their guns a-blazing."
Neither team was able to get much going early on on the offensive end with Lakeview managing to make just 2 of 11 from the field and Wilmington countering with a 5 for 17 clip as the Greyhounds took a 14-4 lead into the second quarter on the strength of a 10-2 run.
Wilmington continued its offensive surge in the second quarter with a 7-0 run followed almost immediately by a 7-2 run as the eventual victors took a 32-20 lead into the break.
"(Wilmington) hit big shots throughout the course of the game," Lakeview coach Gary Burke said. "We'd make our run and they always had an answer. They got guys shooting the basketball tonight. The thing that scared us coming into the game tonight was 'Would they get hot?' Tonight for the Sailors, Wilmington got hot. For all the preparation we had this week, we wanted our movement to hurt them. We didn't come out with a lot of movement and we had to jump-start ourselves by subbing guys in and out. Once we did that, we got everything we wanted to get. Unfortunately, we didn't get the stops at the defensive end."
Spencer DeMedal led the 'Hounds with a game-high 26 points, along with six rebounds, while Robert Pontius tacked on 16 points and six rebounds. Joey Pezzano knocked down 5-of-6 treys for 15 points.
"The one good thing about our team is when DeMedal is in foul trouble or he's not living up to our expectations of him, other guys step up," Jeckavitch said. "Pezzano and Pontius gave us some clutch minutes. Joey doesn't get a ton of minutes, but when he's out there, we ask him to do what he does. He has the green light to shoot and when he's on like he was tonight, we're a very dangerous team."