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Defense key for BC in victory

EBENSBURG — Facing a big and lengthy Conemaugh Valley team Tuesday night in the District 6 Class 1A quarterfinals, the Bishop Carroll boys basketball team knew its speed would be key.

Upping the tempo of the game, the Huskies deployed a full-court press and forced the Blue Jays into numerous mistakes. With the defense working as its best offense, Bishop Carroll took over early to advance to the semifinals with a 67-44 victory.

“We have a lot of energy, and our bench has plenty of depth,” said Bishop Carroll sophomore forward Spencer Myers, who scored 11 points. “When someone gets tired, we can sub someone else in. We can just go 100 percent and hustle the whole game.”

The Blue Jays (5-9) struggled to move the ball upcourt.

Bishop Carroll (6-10) consistently double-teamed Conemaugh Valley’s guards and trapped them in their own zone, and later turning the ball over several times, the Blue Jays were held to just five points in the second quarter and trailed by 25 at the half.

“I tell these kids that defense can be our best offense,” Bishop Carroll coach Cosie Aliquo said. “Hustle is never a question for these kids. These kids are nonstop.”

The press ultimately paved the way for a dominant scoring affair by the Huskies. Led by 15 points from junior guard Evan Amigh and 11 from Thomas Heinrich, Bishop Carroll constantly let it fly from the field and scored from a variety of areas on the court.

Despite Conemaugh Valley boasting 6-foot-5 senior centers Zach Scott and Casey Cruse, the Huskies were able to drive to the inside and score underneath.

Bishop Carroll also chucked it up often from deep range, with Amigh scoring three of his team’s seven 3-pointers.

“We shot tremendously well tonight and passed the ball around better than any game this season,” said Bishop Carroll sophomore guard Ayden Smorto, who scored a pair from beyond the arc and totaled eight points. “We played perfectly as a team and executed. When we didn’t score, we got steals on the press.”

Bishop Carroll left no questions about its hustle or offensive efficiency, but the defensive effort left much to be desired.

Logan Kent scored 13 points in the fourth quarter (20 total) for Conemaugh Valley and was able to weave through the Husky defense with ease in the final stanza.

After muscling up and stripping the ball out of Conemaugh Valley’s hands in the first half, Bishop Carroll opted to reach toward the ball instead of stepping in.

The Huskies sometimes got the strip, but if the reach missed, the Bluejays found wide-open breaks to the hoop.

“We have to be better on defense,” Amigh said. “We’re hustling, but we’re just not stepping in. We’re reaching too much. We’re not boxing out, and we have to work on that.”

With the victory, Bishop Carroll advances to the semifinals Friday to host No. 7 seed St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy. The Wolfpack upset Saltsburg Tuesday night, 50-39.

Bishop Carroll, who is the defending champion in Class 1A, is seeking its third district title in four years.

“This is an important win for these kids,” Aliquo said. “We have no seniors, and it’s good for these kids to just keep plugging away. These kids have all improved. We work with these kids everyday, and they work hard. But I told these kids that I’m not happy with just making playoffs. I expect a lot from them.”

BISHOP CARROLL (67): Amigh 5 2-2 15, Myers 1-1 11, Heinrich 5 1-2 11, Smorto 3 0-0 8, T. Golden 2 2-2 7, Repko 2 0-0 5, Madonna 2 0-0 4, Dumm 1 0-0 2, Farabaugh 1 0-0 2, J. Golden 1 0-0 2, Becquet 0 0-0 0, Sekerak 0 0-0 0. Totals 27 6-7 67.

CONEMAUGH VALLEY (44): Kent 5 9-12 20, Cruse 6 1-2 13, Scott 3 0-2 6, Roberts 1 1-3 3, Levis 1 0-0 22, Yackulick 0 0-1 0, Urban 0 0-0 0, McCombie 0 0-0 0, Percinsky 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 11-20 44.

SCORE BY QUARTER

Conemaugh Valley 12 5 10 17- 44

Bishop Carroll 21 21 13 12- 67

Three-point field goals: Bishop Carroll 7 (Amigh 3, Smorto 2, Repko, T. Golden); Conemaugh Valley 1 (Kent).

Records: Bishop Carroll (6-10); Conemaugh Valley (5-9).

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