LEETSDALE - It's not often you face a No. 7 seed that could have challenged for a district championship.
Chestnut Ridge did Tuesday night in Quaker Valley. And, the host Quakers stormed past the Lions, 88-49, in a PIAA Class AA preliminary round game.
Quaker Valley (21-4) takes on District 6 champ Bishop McCort (17-7) on Saturday in a PIAA first-round game. Chestnut Ridge's season ended at 18-7.
"It wasn't a good draw for us. Now they are 21-4. They move the ball well; they are well coached; they defend," Chestnut Ridge coach Randy Meck said. "I give them a lot of credit. They are very talented and I wish them the best."
The Quakers had been idle since they dropped a 56-55 decision to Sto-Rox on Feb. 25 in the D-7 (WPIAL) quarterfinals. They were eager to get going in the PIAA tournament. Quaker Valley had to wait to see how the WPIAL tournament field unfolded before learning if it would advance.
"What was difficult was, we were in limbo from Saturday to Saturday. That was the hard part. We thought we had a really good chance," Quaker Valley coach Mike Mastroianni said. "The system is the system, but I really thought we were deserving to be a state playoff team as one of the representatives from the WPIAL. Our guys still want to play. I don't know if we can go all the way. But I think we can go step on the court with anybody; we're a real competitive group."
The hosts showed that from the start. Their quickness on the defensive end helped fuel the team's offense. Three-straight steals and fastbreak hoops helped spark an 8-0 run as the Quakers grabbed a 13-5 lead 3:18 into the game.
Chestnut Ridge made it a four-point game as Vince Little and Beau Bosch baskets trimmed the deficit to 13-9. However, the Quakers turned up the intensity and closed the quarter with a 10-2 run. The last two buckets came off steals.
"That's usually how we play. Our team strength is speed. We're a little small, so we have to fight around the post and we usually give up some points there, but we can recover it with our speed," Mastroianni said. "We play fast and we don't like to play slow. I thought they did a good job containing us in the second quarter. Overall, I thought we did a real good job of pressure defense and getting down there on the break."
The Lions were able to slow the pace in the second and start to execute some of their game plan.
"Our strategy coming in was to force it inside and get to the foul line. To their credit, their pressure didn't allow it. We couldn't get in a half-court set too often," Meck said. "I was happy with the way we played in the first half. We just had some mental breakdowns and we had some work ahead of us."
Quaker Valley outscored Chestnut Ridge, 15-14, in the quarter to post a 38-25 halftime advantage.
The hosts erupted in the third quarter. Their speed and depth were overwhelming as they exploded for 24 points. The Lions struggled with the defensive pressure and were limited to two field goals in an eight-point effort in the third. The Quakers built a 62-33 lead by the time the buzzer sounded.
Quaker Valley substituted freely in the fourth quarter, but did not miss a beat. The hosts racked up 26 more points for the 39-point triumph. All told, they scored 50 points in the second half.
"They woke up a little bit; they definitely turned their game up in the second half," Meck said.
Sam Peduto and Burke Moser both led Quaker Valley with 17 points. Steve Emch added 14.
Bosch finished with 14 for the Lions, while Brad Hengst had nine. Chestnut Ridge graduates three seniors from this year's squad: Michael Young, Hengst and Little.
"These seniors have worked very hard," Meck said. "They all moved up as freshmen and we won a total of four games. The last two years, we've won 17 and 18 games and it's all because of their hard work."
CHESTNUT RIDGE (49): Young 1 3-6 5, Bosch 5 4-7 14, Little 3 0-0 6, Brad Hengst 4 0-0 9, Pick 3 0-0 6, Brade. Hengst 1 0-0 2, Weyant 1 0-0 2, Wiley 1 0-0 2, Loar 1 0-0 3.Totals: 20 7-13 49.
QUAKER VALLEY (88): Emch 6 0-0 14, West 4 1-1 9, Moser 7 1-2 17, S. Peduto 8 1-1 17, J. Peduto 3 2-2 8, Westwood 0 0-0 0, Gloster 1 0-0 3, Luton 1 0-0 2, Trovato 1 0-0 2, Conlan 1 0-0 2, Alt 1 0-0 2, Taylor 2 0-0 4, Fondi 1 0-0 2, McGarry 1 0-0 3, Garbee 1 1-1 3. Totals: 38 6-7 88
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Chestnut Ridge 11 14 8 16 - 49
Quaker Valley23 15 24 26 - 88
3-pointers: Chestnut Ridge 1 (Brad Hengst). Quaker Valley 6 (Emch 2, Moser 2, Gloster, McGarry).
Records: Chestnut Ridge (18-7); Quaker Valley (21-4).
Officials: Rob Mancz, Mark Sipe, Don Pettigrew.