When the WPIAL released its playoff pairings last week, South Fayette coach Rich Bonnaure and West Mifflin coach Lance Maha had the same thought: Things could get ugly in the first round.
South Fayette and West Mifflin had met twice in non-section games the past two seasons that turned into not-so-pretty contests. The winning team scored in the 40s and the losing team in the 30s.
When the two met Tuesday night, the stakes were higher, but the scoring wasn't.
In another low-scoring, defensive game, South Fayette defeated West Mifflin, 40-34, in a Class AAA first-round game at Baldwin.
"It was exactly as both Lance and I predicted," Bonnaure said, with a laugh.
In other words, ugly.
But South Fayette didn't care if it didn't win any style points. The Lions (14-9) are moving on to the quarterfinals to face No. 1 seed Chartiers Valley. Meanwhile, West Mifflin (16-6) saw its WPIAL championship hopes end for the third year in a row with a loss at Baldwin.
"We knew they weren't going to go down easy, and they were giving up only 46 points a game," Bonnaure said. "You just try to do whatever it takes to win against them."
What it took to win this time was some good 3-point shooting by Bonnaure's son, Evan. A senior guard, Evan Bonnaure scored a game-high 16 points, making 4 of 9 3-point attempts.
But it was Evan Bonnaure's defense that also was a key. He guarded Lance Maha, the coach's son and West Mifflin's leading scorer, and Maha finished with 10 points, eight below his average. Maha attempted six shots in the first three quarters. He made two 3-pointers late in the game after the outcome was decided. No other West Mifflin player scored in double figures.
"I think Evan did a good job taking Ryan away," Rich Bonnaure said. "If [Maha] doesn't score, they have trouble scoring."
West Mifflin shot 18 percent (3 of 17) from 3-point range. South Fayette shot 30 percent (7 of 23) behind the arc.
"It's tough to play them because we're very similar," Lance Maha said. "We both defend the same way. We don't gamble a lot on defense and they don't gamble a lot. You have to either make some shots or get to the rim against them, but it's very tough to get to the rim on them."
South Fayette scored the final seven points of the first quarter to take a 13-6 lead and never trailed again. The Lions led, 21-11, at halftime, but West Mifflin sliced the margin to 26-24 with 1:55 left in the third quarter.
South Fayette led, 31-28, in the fourth before Bonnaure scored seven consecutive points to give the Lions a 38-28 edge with 2:56 left. West Mifflin had the ball and trailed only 33-28 when Lance Maha was called for a technical. Evan Bonnaure made both free throws, added a 3-pointer 55 seconds later, and West Mifflin couldn't recover.
For more on high school sports, go to Varsity Blog at www.post-gazette.com/varsityblog. Mike White: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1975 and Twitter @mwhiteburgh. First Published February 20, 2013 5:15 AM