Montour coach Adam Kaufman was miffed at his team's free-throw shooting Tuesday night. At one point in the fourth quarter, Montour was 4 of 14 from the line.
But the problem was Montour just needed to get a little farther back to the next line. That's where the Spartans felt most comfortable.
Montour had a hot shooting game behind the 3-point line, and the team's marksmanship was the main reason the Spartans defeated Mars, 61-52, in a WPIAL Class AAA semifinal in front of a packed house at Moon.
The strategy for Montour wasn't complicated. Devin Wilson penetrated the lane and kicked passes often to Rob Julian and Kevin Scuilli, who made a combined eight 3-pointers. It was simple but so effective in putting Montour (21-4) in the title game for the second time in the past three years. Mars (21-4) was trying to make the title game for the first time.
"Rob Julian and Kevin have given us the same thing just about every game this year," Kaufman said. "It's been happening with those two all year."
The two senior guards each have more than 60 3-pointers this season. Julian was 5 of 6 from behind the arc against Mars while Scuilli, who has more than 260 3-pointers in his career, was 3 of 7. Dustin Sleva added two 3s in the first quarter.
"You know how basketball is," Kaufman said. "You have to get the ball in the paint and make the defense collapse. We don't have a post player to get the ball in the paint, so we have to do it through dribble penetration or some other way. Then, guys make plays off that.
"That's the special thing about Devin Wilson. We wouldn't be where we are without Devin. It's a lot easier to get open when Devin is on your team."
Julian finished with 17 points, Scuilli 15 and Wilson 12. The big key to the game was Montour's shooting in the third quarter after it built a 30-27 halftime lead. Then, in the third quarter, Julian and Scuilli combined to make 4 of 5 3-pointers and the Spartans' lead grew to 42-32 heading into the fourth. Mars didn't have a field goal in the second half until 6:21 had elapsed. Mars came back and closed the gap to 56-52 with one minute remaining.
Mars had five 3-pointers in the game and 6-foot-8 center Josh Goetz led the Planets with 12 points. Despite Goetz's decided height advantage against any Montour player, Mars had trouble getting him the ball much. Goetz took only five shots.
Chartiers Valley (22-3), the No. 1 seed, raced to an 11-point lead and posted a 68-43 victory against Beaver (19-4) in the other semifinal at North Allegheny.
Chartiers Valley held Beaver to 28 percent shooting (19 of 66). Meanwhile, Chartiers Valley made eight 3-pointers.
Matty McConnell scored a game-high 24 points for Chartiers Valley as the Colts avenged a 59-55 loss Jan. 8 against Beaver, a game in which the normally potent Colts struggled to score.
"One of the big differences [between the two games] was that my son [Matty McConnell] made one of 13 3-pointers in that first game," Chartiers Valley coach Tim McConnell said said.
"We hit a lot of big shots [Tuesday night], and a lot of different guys hit them."
Michael Boulos added 16 points for Chartiers Valley. Spencer Casson had 12 points and 16 rebounds, and Dominic Castello chipped in 10 points. The Colts shot 40 percent from the field (24 of 60).
Chartiers Valley went ahead, 23-9, on Castello's 3-pointer less than a minute into the second quarter and went on to hold a 32-15 halftime lead.
After that, Chartiers Valley was threatened just once. The Colts led, 35-15, with 6:40 left in the third quarter, but Beaver fought back with a 10-0 run to make it 35-25. The Bobcats got no closer.
Beaver's Aaron Barlow finished with 15 points and 16 rebounds, but was 7-of-24 shooting. Beaver lost in the semifinals for the second year in a row. The Bobcats were looking to reach the title game for the first time.
Chartiers Valley will appear in a title game for the ninth time under McConnell since 1996.
First Published February 27, 2013 5:15 AM