Boys Basketball: Burrell, Beaver Falls to play for AA title

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Burrell is not a team that likes to play an up-and-down style. Instead, it relies on defense, tenacious rebounding and grit.

Though it might not be most entertaining strategy, it's hard to argue with the results.

Led by 16 points from Cole Bush, many of which came in the second half, the Buccaneers continued their unexpected postseason run, defeating Quaker Valley, 43-32, in overtime Wednesday night at North Allegheny.

They will face Beaver Falls in the WPIAL Class AA championship game Saturday at Palumbo Center. It's a place few people expected them to see just a few weeks ago.

"I couldn't be prouder of our guys," Burrell coach Robert Niederberger said. "This is all about the work they put in. I always say that championship games are played in March, but they're won back in the offseason."

A big reason for the victory was Burrell's inside play, primarily from Bush and Matt Hess. With those two leading the way, the Buccaneers (19-6, 8-2) outrebounded the Quakers (20-5, 9-3), 42-16.

The advantage was more significant on the offensive glass, where Burrell consistently got second-chance points.

"That kind of won us the game, to be honest with you," said Niederberger.

Facing a 15-10 halftime deficit, the Quakers offense came to life in the third quarter, outscoring Burrell, 13-6, to gain a two-point advantage going into the final eight minutes.

Burrell had a one-point lead and the ball with less than two minutes remaining, but Quaker Valley's Qadir Taylor intercepted a pass and made an uncontested layup as the Quakers regained the lead. Hess made a free throw to send the game into overtime as neither team scored in the final minute.

Continuing to display its defensive prowess, Burrell dominated the extra period, outscoring Quaker Valley, 13-2.

Nelson Westwood scored a team-high eight points for Quaker Valley, which will now await its pairing for the PIAA tournament.

"You don't want to go out on this end without us playing hard," Quaker Valley coach Mike Mastroianni said. "We've got an opportunity in 10 days to just go out and play."

Other semifinal

Playing an Apollo-Ridge team that made it to the semifinals by upsetting Sto-Rox and Jeannette, Beaver Falls quickly and decisively made sure it would not be the next victim.

The top-seeded Tigers (22-3, 14-0)raced to a commanding lead and kept extending it as they routed the Vikings (18-8, 5-5), 71-39.

Three Beaver Falls players scored in double figures, led by Drew Cook's 16 points. Elijah Cottrill and Cadee Akins each added 14 points.

The Beaver Falls offense immediately seized control, building a quick, 22-2 lead that ballooned to 51-12 by halftime after the Tigers made 71.4 percent of their shots.

The pressure and intensity continued, despite the large advantage.

"We knew when we got up to that lead that our mindset is a little different from most teams in that we're going to continue to apply pressure for the entire game," Beaver Falls coach Doug Biega said.

The mercy rule took effect in the second half as the lead never got lower than the final, 32-point margin.

Lucas Burrell led Apollo-Ridge with 12 points.

It was the 12th win in a row for Beaver Falls, which also has won 17 of its past 18 games heading into a title game in which Biega also will attempt to earn his 300th career victory.

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Craig Meyer: and Twitter: @craig_a_meyer.


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