Furious fourth, plus OT, pushes BC into next round

MONROEVILLE – Bishop Carroll Catholic’s 63-59 overtime win over Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic in the PIAA Class A quarterfinals Friday felt so good, the Huskies celebrated twice.

Brandon Martinazzi drained a long shot from the corner just before the final buzzer of regulation with Bishop Carroll down two at Gateway’s Henry J. Furrie Sports Complex. As the horn blared, the Huskies and their fans were overcome with excitement as the scoreboard registered the shot as a 3-pointer.

Seconds later, after the officials huddled, the shot was ruled a 2-pointer, and an overtime period was announced.

“I don’t know,” Martinazzi said regarding his shot. “Scott [Lucas] threw me the ball, and I shot it. It went in, but I don’t know. When they put the three points up there, I thought we won, so it was pretty upsetting to see we were going to overtime.”

The pro-Bishop Carroll crowd showered the officials with boos as Huskies coach Cosie Aliquo pleaded his case to no avail.

Rather than hang their heads at the decision, the Huskies appeared to come out determined to take advantage of their second life and scored the first five points of overtime.

“Without having Marcus [Lee, who fouled out in the fourth quarter with 2:43 to play], our guys just battled,” Aliquo said. “We just don’t give up. This group just stays together.”

Carroll took a seven-point lead with 1:13 to play when Mitchell Madonna made one of two free throws, but an over-the-back foul on Nik Suckinos after the second attempt helped North Catholic get back into the game.

The Trojans went on a 7-2 run with the help of some free-throw woes by Bishop Carroll and trailed by just two with 36.7 seconds left in overtime.

David Swatsworth missed two more free throws for the Huskies – they went just 4-of-10 in the final 1:11 of the game – and North Catholic came away with the ball.

Bishop Carroll forced its 18th turnover of the game with 18.3 seconds left, but Madonna made just one of two from the line to keep it a one-score game.

Following a timeout with 14.4 seconds left, Ryan Kirby shot a contested 3-pointer that came up short. Lucas corralled the rebound and was fouled with 2.6 seconds left.

He missed the first but sealed the game by making the second.

“We couldn’t make our foul shots down the stretch, and that really hurt us,” Martinazzi said. “We should have been able to put it away earlier, but I still felt confident and it feels awesome to win.”

The Huskies will meet a familiar opponent in the semifinals on Tuesday at a site and time to be determined.

Lincoln Park defeated Vincentian Friday night to set up a rematch of last year’s quarterfinal that Lincoln Park won, 86-84, when Scott Ranck’s desperation full-court heave fell short at the buzzer.

“There’s nothing better than getting another shot,” Martinazzi said. “It’s time to go. We have waited a year for this, and whatever happens, happens. I think we can go all the way, in my opinion, but what these guys have done is so impressive. I couldn’t have asked for a better year.”

Unlike last season when Bishop Carroll came into the state playoffs as the District 6 Class A runner-up, the Huskies are 28-0 and ranked among the top teams in the state.

“I told our guys, 28-0 with our schedule, we should be enjoying it,” Aliquo said. “I’m the lucky one. I get to coach them.

“Lincoln Park is so good. They are so good and so athletic. We’re just going to go and battle. They know what we can bring, and we know what they can bring. I’m sure not many people are giving us a chance, but not many gave us a chance to be 28-0 either.”

Before they got to 28-0, the Huskies had to overcome a halftime deficit for the second consecutive game.

North Catholic controlled the first-half pace and built a 20-15 lead through 16 minutes, but Bishop Carroll scored the first six points of the second half to take the lead.

“We turned the ball over four or five times to enable Carroll to go on a run and take the lead and pass us up,” North Catholic coach Dave Long said. “I think that was the key to the game. It opened the floodgates and let Carroll play the style it wanted to play.”

The Huskies outscored the Trojans, 21-10, in the quarter and forced eight turnovers. Madonna, who often facilitates Carroll’s offense rather than provide it, began taking it upon himself to drive to the basket and scored six of his 11 points in the quarter. The senior guard also finished with four steals and four rebounds.

“In the second half, the lanes opened up a lot for me,” Madonna said. “I was able to get to the bucket and make a few to help open things up for everyone else. I have my teammates to thank, because everyone we put on the floor is a great shooter.”

Martinazzi, who led all scorers with 22 points, scored the first four points of the fourth quarter to give Bishop Carroll a 10-point lead with 6:54 to play. The first two points came on free throws after North Catholic’s coaching staff was slapped with a technical foul for arguing a non-foul call on Lee.

Much like Bishop Carroll did against Monessen, North Catholic (17-11) responded to its coaches’ frustration.

Jon Savulchack, who led the Trojans with 21 points, gave North Catholic the lead with two free throws with 2:37 left. Timon Gribbin made one of two at the line to complete a 17-4 run and give North Catholic a 47-44 advantage with 2:23 left.

The teams traded baskets before Martinazzi made a layup with 54.3 seconds left. P.J. Fulmore made a free throw to extend the Trojans’ lead back to two, and Madonna drew a foul with 16.2 seconds left.

He made just one of two at the line, and Savulchack returned the favor at the other side to set up Martinazzi’s final shot of regulation.

“Obviously I’m disappointed,” Long said. “Our seniors played their hearts out, but we just couldn’t pull it out. We played a great team, and they have talented kids who took advantage of their opportunities.”

Lincoln Park is ranked No. 1 in the Pennsylvania Class A rankings according to PennLive.com.

“We have three seniors who start, and we’re used to the pressure,” Madonna said. “We just have to work on our foul shots a little bit.”

CARDINAL WUERL NORTH CATHOLIC (59): Fulmore 2 1-2 5, Robb 4 3-4 12, Kirby 5 1-3 12, Savulchack 4 12-14 21, Gribben 3 1-2 9, Goetz 0 0-0 0, Legrande 0 0-0 0. Totals – 18 18-25 59.

BISHOP CARROLL (62): Maruca 1 6-8 8, Martinazzi 8 6-6 22, Lee 5 1-1 11, Madonna 4 3-6 11, Suckinos 3 1-2 7, Swatsworth 0 0-2 0, Burk 0 0-0 0. Totals – 22 18-27 63.


North Catholic 10 10 10 21 8 – 59

Bishop Carroll 9 6 21 15 12 – 63

3-pointers: North Catholic 5 (Gribben 2, Robb, Savulchack, Kirby); Bishop Carroll 1 (Lucas).

Records: Bishop Carroll (28-0); Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic (17-11).

Officials: Sam Zambanini, Rod Jarvis, Barry Saylor.