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Defense does in BG in title tilt

EBENSBURG — Clinching the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference championship came down to just an inbounds pass.

The Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic boys basketball team had exactly what they were looking for on the play, but Johnstown came up with a key deflection.

That set up a heartbreaking 3-pointer from NBA range from Gershon Simon with just eight seconds to go as the Marauders fell to the Trojans, 52-51, in the title game at Bishop Carroll High School.

“We got the ball in bounds where we wanted,” Bishop Guilfoyle coach Chris Drenning said. “We made a pass, and the second pass Kyle (Ruggery) was open in the middle. (We) just didn’t make a good pass.

“The pass got deflected and it got over to (Simon) and he got an open three in a scramble and made it.”

Simon finished the evening with 10 field goals for a game-high 28 points, and was the only Trojan to get into double-figures — scoring 13 alone in the fourth quarter.

“That’s what seniors do,” Johnstown coach Ryan Durham said. I’m just so proud of him.”

The Trojan offense was also very reliant on the 3-pointer getting four in just the first quarter alone to give the champions an 18-13 lead after the opening stanza.

That helped offset a strong opening frame from Ruggery who scored seven of his team-high 14 points, including one on a turn-around jumper with under two minutes to go.

That helped give Johnstown a 27-23 lead at the break.

“I don’t think we were very good offensively, especially in the first half,” Drenning said. “In the second half, we tried to increase the tempo a little bit, and we got some easier shots. I thought in the first half, we were driving side ways, and credit to them, too.”

That change in tempo seemed to be taking full effect, especially late in the third quarter when Alex Wood knocked down a 3-pointer, which was later followed up with a layup from Michael Montecalvo to give the Marauders a 34-33 lead at the time.

Ruggery finished off the explosion with a take away on a fast break to give BG a 42-37 lead after three.

“They’re so well-coached, they’re used to these moments,” Durham said. “They’re poised. I was just glad we were able to match their poise and intensity and we made enough plays to win.”

Drenning felt the Trojans’ defense played a large roll in the first-half struggles for a team used to scoring a lot.

“We’re scoring usually in the 70s, almost always in the 60s,” he said. “I knew they were going to play hard man, and that’s what they play. I just didn’t think in the first half we were very intelligent with the way we attacked. That’s why we tried to change the tempo. I just thought that helped us spread the floor a little bit and get to what we wanted to do.”

The Marauders focus will now shift to the District 6 Class 2A playoffs on Thursday night as the bracket’s top-seed awaits the winner of No. 8 United vs. No. 9 Claysburg-Kimmel.

JOHNSTOWN (52): Franklin 1 2-2 5, Wyatt-Taylor 4 0-0 8, Simon 10 2-2 28, Toney 2 0-0 6, Harris 0 0-0 0, Matula 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 4-4 52.

BISHOP GUILFOYLE (51): Helton 5 2-3 14, Ruggery 6 1-2 13, Montecalvo 3 6-6 13, Haigh 1 0-0 3, Wood 3 1-1 7, Yanoshak 0 0-0 0, Adams 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 10-12 51.

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Johnstown 18 9 10 15 — 52

Bishop Guilfoyle 13 10 19 9 — 51

3-point goals: Johnstown 10 (Franklin, Matula, Smith 6, Toney 2); Bishop Guilfoyle 5 (Helton 2, Montecalvo, Haigh, Wood)

Records: Johnstown (20-3); Bishop Guilfoyle (20-3)

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