Lee leads BC to state playoff win
GREENSBURG – Great teams occasionally have an Achilles heel. Sometimes it’s a tiny issue and other times it’s 6-foot-5 inches.
In Vincentian Academy’s case, it is Bishop Carroll’s Marcus Lee.
Lee scored a career-high 33 points, had 13 rebounds, a steal and a block as the Huskies knocked off the Royals, 92-85, in the second round of the PIAA Class A state tournament at Hempfield Area High School Tuesday.
Earlier this year, Lee scored 20 points and grabbed 24 rebounds when Bishop Carroll handed Vincentian (26-2) its only loss in the regular season.
“Our object was to keep him under the 25 rebounds or whatever the heck he had against us the first time,” Vincentian coach George Yokitis said. “We did a better job, but we forgot about the part of stopping him from scoring.
“He’s a nice player. We obviously don’t have an athlete like that. Anybody who would walk in the gym can see that.”
Lee’s effort was far from a one-man show.
Scott Ranck scored 27 points and was 11-for-11 from the foul line, Brandon Martinazzi finished with 18 points and David Maruca scored all nine of his points in the second half for the Huskies.
“Marcus is a key for us going into any game, but all my players are key,” Bishop Carroll coach Cosie Aliquo said. “If you key on one, the other guys will step up and do it. We play as a team so we don’t have a weak link. If you are going to beat [Vincentian] you can’t have one.”
The Huskies advanced past the second round for the first time since 1998 when they made it to the Class A semifinals.
“I think we have the talent to go the whole way,” Lee said. “We just have to pick up our defense. We let them score way more than we should have. I think if we keep people to our average of 46 points a game, we have a shot.”
The next step for Carroll will be Lincoln Park, a 51-34 winner over Ridgway. The game will be Friday at a site to be determined. Lincoln Park is the fourth-seeded team out of District 7, the district Vincentian won.
“This means so much to the team and the school,” Aliquo said. “They have been working so hard and to get past this round means so much to them.”
Bishop Carroll (23-5) achieved the feat despite 14 Vincentian 3-pointers and a seven-point deficit with 6:18 to play in the third quarter.
Jim Kenna, who made five of the Royals’ treys, connected on his third of the game to put Vincentian up, 53-46, but the Huskies switched to a zone defense and went on an 11-2 run to go ahead, 57-55.
“They get the ball out and run, and they’re so quick,” Maruca said. “We knew that the zone would slow them down, because even if they got up the floor, we’d be there in our set defense.
“We tried to get them to go inside against the zone, because we knew their perimeter players were the best.”
Vincentian did try to get the ball inside, unsuccessfully, and when its players missed, Lee and Ranck, who finished with 10 rebounds, were there to clean up the mess.
“We just had to box out and rebound,” Lee said. “I wasn’t out there looking to rack up points, but my teammates gave me the ball, I had open shots and I hit them.”
Lee broke a 61-61 tie with a layup off an offensive rebound, and Ranck nailed a jumper to close the third quarter.
Lee and Ranck scored the first two baskets of the fourth quarter, and suddenly the Huskies led by eight.
Despite five fourth-quarter 3-pointers from the Royals, Bishop Carroll maintained its cushion through excellent free-throw shooting. The Huskies came into the game shooting just under 66 percent from the free-throw line this season but shot 26-of-32 (81 percent) Tuesday.
“We knew they could shoot from the foul line, and we didn’t want to get into that kind of game,” Yokitis said. “We did, though. This style is really meant for them. They have five players who can handle the ball, and it’s a problem for us.”
The game played out in stark contrast to Bishop Carroll’s 42-39 loss to Bishop Guilfoyle in the District 6 championship game.
“This kind of basketball you just have to keep grinding it out, and you have to attack them,” Aliquo said. “We can play any style that it takes to win, and today was the one where we had to attack.”
The Royals’ final surge pulled them within five after Ryan Wolf hit a 3-pointer with under a minute to go, but Maruca and Lee were perfect on four free throws in the final 30 seconds to clinch the Huskies’ win.
Wolf scored a team-high 27 points for Vincentian, and Kenna added 20.
Vincentian forced Bishop Carroll into 28 turnovers, but only one of them came from the Royals’ press in the second half.
“We did a lot better as the game went on, because we brought our guy to the middle of the floor,” Aliquo said. “In the first half, we got lost. I reminded our guys to get a guy in the middle, because that’s when we’re great at breaking the press.”
Aliquo said besting Vincentian in the regular season played a big role in helping the psyche of the Huskies going into the contest.
“We knew in the back of our minds that we beat them on their home court,” Aliquo said. “We also thought, ‘their only loss was to us,’ so what were they thinking? They were probably thinking that they could be beaten.
“So, on any given day, you only have to be better than a team on that day, and we were better than them today.”
BISHOP CARROLL (92): Ranck 8 11-11 27, Martinazzi 7 2-2 18, Lee 13 7-8 33, Madonna 0 1-2 1, Maruca 2 5-9 9, Suckinos 2 0-0 4. Totals 32 26-32 92.
VINCENTIAN ACADEMY (85): Wolf 11 1-2 27, Fischer 1 2-4 4, Kenna 6 3-4 20, Rathz 6 0-1 14, DiNardo 4 0-0 11, Nee 1 0-0 2, Cortese 1 3-4 5, Lang 0 0-0 0, Taylor 0 0-0 0, McCann 0 0-0 0, Fitzgerald 1 0-0 2. Totals 31 9-15 85.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Bishop Carroll 22 22 21 27 – 92
Vincentian Academy 23 23 15 24 – 85
3-pointers: Bishop Carroll 2 (Martinazzi 2). Vincentian Academy 14 (Kenna 5, Wolf 4, DiNardo 3, Rathz 2)
Records: Bishop Carroll (23-5); Vincentian Academy (26-2)
Officials: Tony Rullo, Craig Stahl, Craig Knubp