Second-quarter lapse sinks Union
Union (45) Vs. Serra Catholic (66)
Feb 19, 2008

BRIDGEVILLE — One brief lapse is all it takes to throw a team off course.

Last night, that dry spell lasted the final 4:27 of the first half for the Union High boys basketball team.

Serra Catholic took command prior to intermission and posted a 66-45 victory in the semifinals of the WPIAL Class A playoffs at Chartiers Valley High School.

“They’re good; there’s a reason why they’ve only lost two games all year,” Scotties coach Dave Smialowski said.

The top-seeded Eagles (24-2), ranked No. 1 by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and No. 1 in the state by the Patriot-News of Harrisburg, will face Wilkinsburg for the WPIAL championship game at 7 p.m. Friday at Duquesne University’s A.J. Palumbo Center. The Tigers topped Bentworth last night, 67-51.

Serra Catholic, bidding for the school’s first district title, is in the WPIAL final for the first time since 1991.

But union’s season is not over. The Scotties (16-7) will compete in the PIAA playoffs as either the No. 3 or No. 4 seed out of the WPIAL depending on how Serra Catholic fares in the championship game.

If the Eagles win, Union will be the No. 3 seed and square off against the District 5 runner-up. Should Wilkinsburg prevail, the Scotties will be the No. 4 seed and face the District 5 champion. The opening round of the PIAA playoffs will be held Feb. 29.

Leading 25-22, Serra Catholic closed the first half on a 17-1 run to take control, 42-23, at the break. Five of the Eagles’ seven field goals during the spurt came in transition.

“We just got careless with the ball and we weren’t getting back in transition,” Smialowski said. “We were struggling on our transition defense and our point guard wasn’t rotating back and they beat us down the floor a lot.

“Without that run it’s an even game, but they did make that run so it doesn’t matter.”

Pat Grubbs, a 6-foot-8, 300-pound senior center, had 17 points and 17 rebounds for the Eagles. Nine of his points came in the pivotal second quarter.

“A lot of good things happened in that second quarter,” Serra Catholic coach Bob Rozanski said.

Union’s Linnell Robinson sank a field goal at 4:48 before the half to close to 25-22. But it was the last bucket for the Scotties until Anthony Thomas drained a 3-pointer 11 seconds into the third quarter.

“It was tough because they made a run on us and we couldn’t catch up,” Thomas said. “They played hard and so did we, but they played better than us.”

Union attempted to chip away in the third period, cutting the deficit 14, but getting no closer.

“If you can get it to 10, the ballgame is on,” Smialowski said.

The Scotties started strong, building an 11-4 lead. But then just as quickly, they fell behind 13-11 after a 9-0 run by the Eagles.

“We were just playing our game early on,” Robinson said. “Our adrenaline was rushing and we were keeping up.

“It was a good, quick (pace). That’s how we should have played the whole game.”

Rob Heatherington gave Serra Catholic a 17-16 lead after the first quarter when he sank two of three foul shots with 49.4 seconds to go.

“We made shots,” Smialowski said of his team’s first-quarter success. “We missed some open looks, but we came out strong.

“The thing it comes down to is hitting shots. The second quarter, the shots weren’t falling and we weren’t getting the open man.”

Union was 18 of 60 from the field with seven field goals coming in the first quarter.

Thomas paced the Scotties with 12 points while Robinson and Jordan Clingensmith had nine apiece.

“They don’t look that athletic on film,” Thomas said. “But when you’re on the court with them, they’re more athletic than you think.”

Donte Calhoun paced Union with 10 rebounds and Matt Adamo snared eight.

T.J. Heatherington also had 17 points for the Eagles and Anthony Epolito added 14.
Nightly Roundup
Feb 19, 2008 Nightly Roundups
Game Scoreboard
Union 16 7 13 9 0 45
Serra Catholic 17 25 10 14 0 66
Box Scores
Field Goals Attempted Foul Shots Made Foul Shots Three Points Total Points Fouls
#3 Linnell Robinson421090
#23 Jason Burkes100020
#25 Markus Allen000000
#1 Anthony Thomas4213120
#20 Jordan Clingensmith321290
#34 Matt Adamo200040
#12 Nick DeCesare100020
#40 Donte Calhoun341070
#32 Anthony Forletta000000
Serra Catholic
Alex Matta100020
Anthony Epolito6320140
Dave Menzies220040
Matt Novosel000000
Pat Grubbs8310170
Rob Heatherington3322100
Ryan Rosa110020
T.J. Heatherington8110170
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