Big Macs punch ticket to basketball playoffs
Big Macs punch ticket to playoffs
CANONSBURG – Brett Haney had waited nearly 24 hours since Trinity upset Moon Thursday night to begin what would amount to a play-in game for the WPIAL Class AAAA boys basketball playoffs … and now this.
The junior varsity game goes to overtime, then down to the last shot. Senior Night. Total, about a 40-minute delay for the Big Macs’ Section 4-AAAA finale against visiting Peters Township.
“I was pretty anxious,” Haney said. “Senior Night is great and all, and I was pumped. But I wanted to play.”
Play Haney did.
Remarkably well, too.
The senior had 26 points Friday, including 14 after halftime, to help Canon-McMillan defeat Peters Township, 62-49, and secure the No. 4 seed in the section when the WPIAL postseason begins next week.
“We came in tonight on a three-game losing streak, and like I just told them, we won a playoff game,” Big Macs coach Rick Bell said. “It was like a play-in game. I’m just really proud of my kids.”
Canon-McMillan (6-8, 11-11) pulled away by outscoring the Indians, 20-4, in the third quarter, part of that being a 15-0 run that lasted nearly five minutes.
“That was the difference right there,” Peters Township coach Gary Goga said.
According to Haney, Canon-McMillan’s zone defense sagged a bit in the first half, allowing the Indians to get several inside baskets.
That stopped after halftime.
“We fixed that in the third quarter,” Haney said. “They had a tough time scoring. We shut them down and then started making shots. Everything was rolling.”
That same zone defense helped limit Peters Township’s best player, Gabe Pritz, to 11 points, more than eight below his season average.
Tim Swoope led the Indians (5-9, 8-13) with 13 points, and Dakota Norton matched Pritz (eight rebounds) with 11.
Seth Petras scored 12 points to complement Haney and made three treys. Jake Cadez added 11 points and six rebounds.
But despite the balanced scoresheet, no doubt this night belonged to Haney, a 6-0 guard who delivered a virtuoso performance that was equal parts slashing and shooting.
Haney made three three-pointers, then scored on three layups, a floater and a jumper from the elbow, each more demoralizing than the next.
“He’s an amazing player,” Petras said. “Whenever he starts hitting shots, you can just see the other team start to cripple because they’re doing everything to keep the ball out of his hands. Whenever it goes in, it’s just a big boost to the rest of us.”
Peters Township took a 12-5 lead four minutes into the game on the strength of two three-pointers from Norton and one from Nick Parello.
But four Haney free throws and a Peters Township turnover that Cadez flipped into a fast-break basket cut the Indians’ lead to 12-11 after one.
Haney had 10 of the Big Macs’ 12 points in the second, including eight straight at one point, but the Indians carried a 27-23 lead into the locker room.
Pritz had only six points in the first half, often flashing near the foul line with guards stationed around the perimeter.
The prettiest play Pritz made was a pass: one-touching a feed inside – remember, he’s an excellent volleyball player – to Swoope for an easy basket that gave the Indians a 21-19 lead at 2:34 of the second quarter.
The momentum would be short-lived, however, with Canon-McMillan’s defense clicking on all cylinders and the offense outscoring Peters Township, 39-22, over the final two quarters..
“We knew we had a lot on the line, but we didn’t expect anything different than what we got tonight,” Haney said. “We were preparing like we normally would like it’s another section game. We just knew tonight it was our last, so we had to go out there and play.”