Playing their third game in as many nights, the Wash High Little Prexies knew they would have their hands full with one of the better boys basketball teams in the WPIAL in Seton-LaSalle.
After a 24-point loss to the Rebels the first time they met, the Prexies took some notes and gave the Rebels all they could handle Friday night. Section 4-AA leader Seton-La Salle wore down upset-minded Wash High in the second half and escaped with a 52-44 victory.
“I’m really proud of my guys,” said Wash High head coach Mark Gaither. “At their place, we really didn’t play well and we wanted another shot at them. We just wanted to play hard and have an opportunity to win at the end, and we had an opportunity. We battled and didn’t back down. They are the No. 1 team in the state and we fought to the end.”
Things started slow for Wash High (8-3, 14-6) as the Prexies had trouble getting their transition game going early in the game and produced little offensively in their half-court sets against the Rebels’ zone defense.
Seton-LaSalle (10-0, 18-1) didn’t have the same problems and found open shooters early, jumping to a 12-5 four minutes into the game. The Rebels led 20-8 early in the second quarter.
“We tried to start out in our zone because that worked against them the first time,” explained Seton-LaSalle head coach Mark Walsh. “We needed to win the rebounding battle and control the tempo of the game. There were times we didn’t, but for the most part I liked the way we played. We got out on their shooters and it was a good road victory for us.”
However, the Prexies made a charge as they tightened up the defense and did a good job of rebounding, limiting Seton-LaSalle to one shot on most possessions.
The effort on defense led to open shots on offense as Wash High was able to speed up the tempo and responded with a 10-0 run, pulling to within 20-18 midway through the second quarter. But the Rebels started having success scoring in the paint to take a 27-20 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The Prexies came out in the second half and scored six straight points, all on layups, to cut the SL lead to three points, but the Rebels responded with a run of their own and eventually upped padded the gap to 12 before the Prexies charged back again.
“We got some stuff going in transition off our defense,” said Gaither. “I think a lot of our problems early were because of nerves. We had a freshman starting and a big crowd, but we settled down and made some things happen.”
Wash High eventually cut the Seton-LaSalle lead to 44-41 with three minutes leff and had the momentum on its side. The Prexies, perhaps tired from the three games in three nights, and were outscored 8-3 down the stretch.
The Prexies received good efforts from both DeQuay Isbell and Quorteze Levy, who finished with 14 and 13 , respectively. Despite having a tough night from the floor, Nate Swart rebounded in the second half to finish in double figures with 11 points.
Wash High did a good job defensively on Rebels leading scorer Dale Clancy, limiting him to only nine point. But the Rebels showed their balance as five different players scored at least nine points, led by Christian DelGreco with 12.
“We’re getting better,” said Gaither. “We are in the playoffs and we got two games left. We want to play well those games and once we are in anything can happen. If we play with the kin of energy we had tonight, I like our chances.”