MCKEES ROCKS – C.J. Rudisill stared at the scoreboard and tried to find something positive to pull out of the South Fayette boys basketball team’s 53-49 loss at Montour Tuesday night.
“The only positive I can think of is that we lost by four points, and Chartiers Valley lost by double digits (11 points) here,” Rudisill said.
Fair enough, though there could be a few valuable lessons learned from this one, the type of game that’s basically a diagnosis before undergoing surgery.
South Fayette, again, started slowly and trailed by 13 at the half. The Lions also failed to switch off of screens, rotate and defend Montour’s three-points shots, allowing the Spartans to make six of 10 in the first half. And they took entirely too long on the game’s final possession, waiting for the perfect shot – not shots – while down four.
Now, South Fayette (8-3, 12-7) cannot win the Section 5-AAA title. What the Lions can hope for, though, is that they clean up what Montour exposed and possibly make a run in the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs.
“Obviously, it hurts to know that we can’t win the section at this point because that was one of our main goals,” point guard Evan Bonnaure said. “But we’ve been saying all year that there are eight or nine teams that realistically have a shot at winning the whole thing.
“I think there’s definitely a chance that you look back in a month and say tonight was the turning point.”
Rudisill led the Lions with 14 points, while Zach Challingsworth had 13 and Lucas Russell finished with 11. Bonnaure contributed nine points.
Montour (9-2, 16-4) got 18 points from Kevin Sciulli – all on three-pointers – and Devin Wilson managed 15, though the Lions did an excellent job limiting his dribble penetration.
The turning point in this one came during the second half of the second quarter, when Montour scored the final 14 points of the period following a Justin Watson runner to take a 33-20 lead at the break
Nine of those points came off of three-pointers, two from Sciulli, as Montour outscored South Fayette, 21-7, in the frame.
“When you shoot 60 percent, you’re going to have a lead,” Montour coach Adam Kaufmann said. “We shot the ball really well.”
It’s apparently been a theme, that whole getting-down-early thing.
“They exposed our first-half weakness,” Rudisill said. “We always have a problem coming out in the first half. That’s something we have to change if we want to make it anywhere in the playoffs.”
Rudisill rallied South Fayette with nine consecutive points in the third quarter to cut the deficit to four at 36-32 after a three-point play at 4:39. But that’s the closest the Lions would get for the rest of the quarter.
Evan Bonnaure opened the fourth with a three, making it 43-41 at 6:42. Yet again, however, Montour rallied with a three-pointer from Sciulli that ignited a 7-0 run.
“We stopped doing what we needed to do on defense, and they took advantage,” Evan Bonnaure said.
South Fayette made it a one-possession game after Wilson missed the front end of a one-and-one with less than a minute to go, as Challingsworth banked in a three from three or four steps behind the arc.
After a free throw from Kyle Kutchman pushed it to four, South Fayette let precious seconds tick off the clock, looking for the perfect shot, and wound up getting no points out of the possession.
Oh, and a few things to work on before the WPIAL playoffs start.
“We saw what we have to do,” Evan Bonnaure said. “At this point, if we go out and do it, I think we have a realistic shot to win it all.”