Homer-Center’s press outmans Blue Pirates
EBENSBURG – Homer-Center coach Bob Rado used eight players in the first quarter of the Wildcats’ District 6 Class A quarterfinal-round high school boys basketball playoff game with Williamsburg.
Not all at once, of course. It just seemed that way.
“It was basically chaos from the time we got the ball,” Williamsburg senior forward Jed Dishong said.
Homer’s full-court pressure and in-your-face defense took the Blue Pirates completely out of their game. Williamsburg wound up with more turnovers than points as the third-seeded Wildcats advanced over the Inter-County Conference North Division runner-up, 71-28, at Bishop Carroll High School on Thursday night.
“We just didn’t handle the pressure very well. We looked to force passes over the top,” Pirates coach Mike Farrell said after his team finished a 15-8 season. “They were beating us to the ball and beating us to the spot.”
Williamsburg never got closer than 15 after committing 13 first-quarter turnovers – four a direct result of the Homer-Center press. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Isiah Carr to finish the opening period and Joe Capitosti to open the second quarter staked the Wildcats to a 26-4 lead just 8:23 into the contest.
“We have a bunch of speedy guys. That puts pressure on teams, and, obviously, tonight, they collapsed on it. We’ve been doing the full-court press throughout the season. That’s always been our go-to,” said Carr, who led Homer with five steals, all in the first half. “Right in the beginning, when we had the huge lead, I thought, ‘We got it.'”
Williamsburg, which only committed more than 18 turnovers in three games all season and had fewer than 10 eight times, wound up with 33, as the Wildcats swarmed the ball and the passing lanes like sharks during a feeding frenzy.
Making matters more complicated was that Pirates’ season assist leader and primary ballhandler Josh Morrissey barely played. The senior picked up his third foul 38 seconds into the second quarter and fouled out with 7:50 left in the game.
“We were surprised, and we started turning over the ball,” said Dishong, who scored Williamsburg’s first six points and finished with a team-high eight.
Homer-Center next will play Bishop Guilfoyle on Monday at a site to be announced. The 18-5 Wildcats rode the Carrs – Isiah and Darren – in the first quarter, when they scored seven points apiece. The brothers played at Marion Center two years ago but moved to Idaho last year before returning to Indiana County.
“They’ve added energy to this team, almost like a spark plug,” Rado said.
Capitosti ended up leading the Wildcats with 15 points to go along with four steals.
It was a tough draw for the Pirates. After the pairings were announced, Farrell expressed some displeasure that his team was seeded sixth, one spot behind Juniata Valley, which it had beaten twice by 16 points in the regular season. District 6, though, does its seedings based on a point formula including games to a certain point late in the season.
Juniata Valley advanced to the semifinals on Thursday by upsetting fourth-seeded Blacklick Valley.
“I thought we deserved better by where we finished in our own conference, but, unfortunately, we didn’t get some conference games in early enough to count towards points,” Farrell said. “We still have to come out and play better than we did tonight, obviously, no matter what team we play.”
Farrell and Dishong both said they still were happy with the season as a whole.
“Fifteen wins is pretty good. We came in second in the ICC [North]; we’d have liked to have been first, but second’s good,” Dishong said. “I just wish we could have pulled off that playoff win.”
WILLIAMSBURG (28): Morrissey 0 1-2 1, Biddle 1 1-2 3, Fay 0 0-0 0, Dishong 3 1-2 8, Palmer 3 1-2 7, Young 2 2-3 6, Ross 0 1-2 1, Shaw 1 0-0 2, Appleman 0 0-0 0. Totals – 10 7-13 28.
HOMER-CENTER (71): D. Carr 5 1-2 12, I. Carr 4 0-0 9, Berezansky 2 0-0 4, Joe Capitosti 5 3-3 15, Miller 2 2-2 6, Jones 4 0-1 9, Della Penna 2 0-0 4, Wilden 1 1-3 3, Gaydosh 1 2-2 4, Caruso 0 0-0 0, Skultety 0 3-4 3, John Capitosti 0 0-0 0, Popovich 0 0-0 0, Black 1 0-0 2. Totals – 27 12-17 71.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Williamsburg 4 12 9 3 -28
Homer-Center23 13 16 19-71
3-point goals: Williamsburg 1 (Dishong); Homer-Center 4 (Joe Capitosti 2, D. Carr, I. Carr).
Officials: Todd Parker, Dave Reimer, Doug Moore.
Team records: Williamsburg (15-8); Homer-Center (18-5).