EDINBORO — All good things must come to an end!
Unfortunately for the Lakeview Sailors (23-5), that ending didn’t come in a storybook fashion with a state championship in Hershey, but rather, with a gut-wrenching 56-44 loss to WPIAL champion and No. 1 ranked Beaver Falls in the PIAA Western Region Semifinals Saturday afternoon at Edinboro University’s McComb Fieldhouse.
With the win, the Tigers (26-3) will face West Middlesex (25-3) in the PIAA Western Region Finals at a site and time to be determined Tuesday.
“For several months, this team sold out for each other and you can’t ask for anything more,” Lakeview coach Gary Burke said. “We talk team all the time. Yeah, the individual stuff is great, but we talk about the team being more important than anything. I don’t know how you could be more proud of a group of young men that came in day-after-day and battled. A lot of people thought Lakeview was pretty good, but I don’t think anyone expected us to get this far. That says so much about these kids. This was very, very special.”
After Beaver Falls jumped out to an early 7-0 lead, the Sailors charged back to keep the deficit to within a pair of buckets — 9 times they were within 6 points — but each time, Beaver Falls answered to push their lead to a more comfortable cushion.
The most notable coming at the start of the second half when Coty Gander converted a traditional three-point play to pull the Sailors to within 27-24.
The Lakeview defense forced Beaver Falls into 3 straight misses, but the Sailor offense failed to capitalize on the opportunity before the Tigers reeled off 5 straight points to take a more comfortable 32-24 lead.
Two free throws from Casey Greggs, a traditional three-point play from Dalton Boggs and a Zach VanDusen lay-up ended the third frame with the Sailors pulling to within 35-31, but Beaver Falls extended its lead back to 9 at 42-33 on a trey from Drew Cook and a pair of freebies from Elijah Cottrill and Dan Stratton.
Again, Lakeview charged back and cut the lead to 46-41 on a Boggs triple midway through the fourth quarter, but the Sailors would get no closer as Beaver Falls connected on 6-of-10 freebies to ice the game before Cottrill literally slammed the door shut with a transition dunk in the closing seconds.
“We’d get it to within a bucket or two and we’d make some unforced errors,” Burke said. “You have to give credit to Beaver Falls, because our kids were expecting that extra pressure and when they didn’t get it, we anticipated it and made a mistake because of it. That goes with the territory. When you get to this point in the season, you’re eventually going to run into a great team, but there’s a reason why we’re in the Elite Eight. We proved that tonight.”
While the Sailors had very little problems solving the Tigers’ vaunted pressure defense, Beaver Falls still coerced Lakeview into a season-high 26 turnovers.
“We handled their full-court pressure bar none better than anyone else has up to this point in the season,” Burke said. “Our kids were mentally prepared for their full-court press and we took them out of it. It was little bit of a surprise that they were able to turn us over as many times as they did in the half-court. We had uncharacteristic turnovers from guys that generally don’t make turnovers.”
Lakeview was led by its three senior starters — Boggs (16 points, 5 rebounds), Greggs (12 points, 4 assists) and Gander (10-point, 12-rebound double-double).
“We needed to do a better job of making ourselves available to Dalton when he came across the half-court,” Burke said. “At times, we got lackadaisical and didn’t give Dalton the help he needed to get us into our offensive sets.
“We did have some good looks. The kids scrapped and they hustled. They had some great basketball looks. Our kids just battled and that’s all you can ask for.”
With the loss, Lakeview must say good-bye to a pair of 1,000-point scorers in Boggs and Greggs, a two-year starter in Gander and a valued reserve in Andrew Fowler.
“I was asked a couple weeks ago if this was a great group of basketball players coming all the way up through (the program),” Burke said. “I said ‘No, they were a great group of kids.’ They were great kids from the word go, but they weren’t great basketball players. What they’ve been able to accomplish to this point is absolutely amazing.
“Dalton, Casey and Coty especially have played a lot of basketball and they got Andrew Fowler to come with them to play basketball. Those four have been thick as thieves. They are four kids that wanted the best for themselves and everyone around them. They were developed. If it weren’t Coach (Larry) Boggs getting these guys started in the elementary program and it weren’t for our LBA program and the coaches all the way up through, these kids wouldn’t be sitting here with their hearts ripped out of their chests. Some day, they’ll be able to look back and see what we really accomplished this year. Yeah, we don’t have any banners up on the wall for the season, but there hasn’t been a team that has garnered as much respect from the community than this group of seniors right here.”
Notes: Cook led Beaver Falls with 19 points, while Stratton and Cottrill contributed 15 and 14 points, respectively. ... Beaver Falls had 9 turnovers — including 5 in the third quarter. ... Lakeview held a 29-22 edge on the glass. ... VanDusen had 4 assists. ... Lakeview knocked down 15-of-37 field goals, 10-of-12 free throws and 4-of-11 from downtown. ... Beaver Falls made 17-of-43 shots, 19-of-25 from the line and 4-of-8 from behind the three-point line.
PIAA CLASS AA
WESTERN REGION QUARTERFINALS
LAKEVIEW 9 12 10 13 44
BEAVER FALLS 12 15 8 21 56
LAKEVIEW — Boggs 5-4-5-16, Greggs 3-4-4-12, Gander 4-2-2-10, B. Rice 2-0-0-4, VanDusen 1-0-1-2, A. Rice 0-0-0-0. 3-pt. goals: Boggs 2, Greggs 2. Totals: 15-10-12-44.
BEAVER FALLS — Cook 6-5-6-19, Cottrill 3-8-10-14, Akins 2-0-2-4, Turner 1-0-0-2, Stratton 4-6-7-15, Miller 1-0-0-2, Mason 0-0-0-0. 3-pt. goals: Cook 2, Stratton 1. Totals: 17-19-25-56.
EDINBORO — All good things must come to an end!
Hickory boys edge WM for D-10 Class AA Track team title
HARBORCREEK — Hickory High co-head coach Mark Slezak referenced the term “exponential” in explaining the four-fold heart-felt feeling of having a relay team qualify for the PIAA Championships.
That sentiment seemed to summarize Mercer County’s performance during Saturday’s annual District 10 Class AA Track & Field Championships.
5 area teams qualify for D-10 baseball playoffs
Five area baseball teams have qualified for the District 10 playoffs — Grove City, Kennedy Catholic, Sharpsville, West Middlesex and Wilmington.
In the Class A semifinals, Kennedy Catholic faces Cochranton at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Northwestern High School. Rocky Grove faces Eisenhower in the other semifinal game.
Hickory, WM boys to collide at D-10 AA Track & Field Championships
For the 2nd time this week, a District 10 track & field team title could be decided by a pair of Mercer County contingents.
Just as Hickory and Grove City girls contested the Class AAA crown Wednesday night, so, too, are the Hickory and West Middlesex boys anticipating vying for Saturday’s AA title.
Roundup: Reynolds baseball tops GC; Sharpsville, Wilmington softball teams win
ä Reynolds 4, Grove City 1 — At Transfer, Neal Engstrom fired a complete-game 3-hitter with 8 strikeouts and 3 walks in lifting the Raiders (9-8) past the Eagles (14-6).
Ryan Grace was tagged with the loss for Grove City. He struck out 6 batters, issued no walks and gave up 7 hits in going the distance.
GC girls 3-peat at District 10 Class AAA Track & Field Championships
HARBORCREEK— Some athletes seeded 1st in four events would feel pressure. For Grove City High senior Daniel Jaskowak, it’s an opportunity for name recognition.
“I kind’ve like it. It’s cool, because people know who you are,” related Jaskowak, who won 3 events during Wednesday’s District 10 Class AAA Track & Field Championships.
Hickory, GC girls collide at D-10 Class AAA Track & Field Championships
If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. Cliché though that is, it will be borne out today at the annual District 10 Class AAA Track & Field Championships.
Hickory High girls — the defending PIAA Class AA titlists — will test the best from the biggest. And the Lady Hornets hope to give as good as they get from the 6-county competition.
Local tune up for districts at Mercer County Invite
There’s a difference between a warm-up and a warning.
If Saturday’s annual track & field invitational is any indication, Mercer County’s contingent issued a warning for the remainder of District 10: This could be a big year in area annals.
Roundup: Grace, GC beat Sharon, 4-0, in 5 innings
With an impending storm blowing in above Johnny Pepe Field time was limited, so Ryan Grace greedily gobbled up putouts.
Grove City High’s Grace gave up only 3 base hits, and the visiting Eagles eased to an abbreviated 4-0, 5-inning win over Sharon Friday afternoon.
HIGH SCHOOL SPRING SPORTS ROUNDUP: County track meet set Saturday at Hickory
The annual Mercer County Track & Field Invitational will be held at Hickory High’s Hornet Stadium Saturday, beginning at 9 a.m.
Competing are all Mercer County teams, Class AAA and AA, as well as Slippery Rock. The meet serves as a warm-up to the District 10 championships set next week at Harbor Creek High.
Roundup: Sharon baseball squad edges Sharpsville, 5-4
It was a tense Tuesday in Tiger-town.
Twenty-four hours removed from a 1-run Region 2-AA loss at New Wilmington, Sharon High’s baseball team could not afford another setback, otherwise its postseason aspirations were alleviated.
Conversely, region pacesetting Sharpsville could have secured the crown with a win, and the Blue Devils dashed to an early 3-0 lead.
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- Hickory boys edge WM for D-10 Class AA Track team title