EBENSBURG - Underdogs almost always find ways to make things interesting.
They don't always win, but they certainly put up a good fight.
The 11th-seeded Central boys basketball team played a tremendous first half and started the second half on a high note, but just moments later, the wheels fell off the bus.
Sixth-seeded Bishop McCort used four third-quarter turnovers to spark a 10-0 run and never looked back in its 56-44 victory in the District 6 Class AA first round Tuesday night at Central Cambria High School.
Both Tristan Greenland and Zach Slagenweit had five first-quarter points, and Trevor Forshey scored 10 of Central's 12 second-quarter points to help give the Dragons (11-10) a 26-24 halftime lead.
"They did a very good job in the early part of the game of just playing their style," said Bishop McCort coach Pat Hollern, who picked up his 200th career win (200-107). "They were just being who they were, and we sort of got out of who we are."
"I thought we played great in the first half," Central coach Reggie Nevins said. "We did exactly what we wanted to do - controlled the tempo, got good shots, made enough of them to stay ahead. We did an excellent job on the boards and hardly turned the ball over at all. Basically we did everything we needed to do."
But after Austin Cunningham gave Central a five-point lead early in the third quarter, not much went right for the Dragons.
Bishop McCort turned a two-point deficit into an eight-point advantage in 2:19 thanks to four Central turnovers and six points from Nemo Trexler and four from Billy Hipp.
The only thing that stopped the bleeding was a technical foul whistled on Trexler for pulling himself up on the rim on a dunk that gave the Crushers (13-7) a 39-31 lead at the tail-end of the spurt.
"We got a little careless in the third quarter," Nevins said. "They turned up their defense. They just [allowed] so much contact. We turned the ball over a few times because we were knocked off-balance. It really threw our guards out of whack.
"We never really recovered from that. Once they got ahead, they got a little more comfortable. They made shots."
The Crushers forced 13 turnovers in the second half - six in the deciding third quarter - after only getting eight takeaways in the first half.
Hipp finished with a game-high 19 points, Trexler added 18 and Jordan Spangler, who drained four 3-pointers, scored 14.
"We felt at halftime, we just needed to adjust our mindset and keep preaching what we do everyday at practice," Hollern said. "We were able to get some turnovers. We were able to get some layups and extend the lead a little bit and start to play more with the confidence that we've had all season.
"When we get crisp and get moving and start to gather ourselves, we do a lot of things well. Defensively in the second half, we were pretty good."
Forshey had a team-high 13 points off of the bench, while Slagenweit scored 11 and Greenland added nine.
"He gave us a great spark in the second quarter," Nevins said of Forshey. "He has no fear. He's that kind of offensive player. He went in there got some big buckets - a couple off of turnovers - and made some big hustle plays."
Bishop McCort advances to face No. 3 Bellwood-Antis - a 49-44 winner over Blairsville - in Friday's quarterfinals at a site and time to be determined.
"Their record [21-3] is what it is for a reason," Hollern said of the Blue Devils. "They can play basketball. And they can go on stretches where they are very, very sharp both offensively and defensively. We're going to have to make sure we take care of the basketball and play defense. They're very good."
CENTRAL (44): Greenland 4-6 0-0 9, Cunningham 2-9 2-2 7, Mills 0-0 0-0 0, Slagenweit 3-7 4-4 11, Patterson 2-8 0-0 4, Forshey 5-7 0-0 13, Lafferty 0-0 0-0 0, Vollkommer 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 16-37 6-6 44.
BISHOP McCORT (56): Trexler 9-15 0-1 18, Hipp 8-16 2-2 19, Neiderhiser 0-1 0-0 0, Spangler 5-10 0-0 14, Barbin 0-1 0-0 0, Pastorek 1-7 0-0 3, Rugg 0-1 0-0 0, DiFrancesco 0-0 0-0 0, Ingram 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 24-53 2-3 56.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Central14 12 7 11 - 44
Bishop McCort17 7 17 15 - 56
3-point goals: Central 6-12 (Greenland, Cunningham, Slagenweit, Forshey 3), Bishop McCort 6-19 (Hipp, Spangler 4, Pastorek).
Records: Central (11-10), Bishop McCort (13-7).