As the WPIAL handed out awards after the Class AAA championship, Montour's Devin Wilson was still holding onto the game ball -- firmly.
Wilson treated the game the same way. He took it in his own hands and wouldn't let go.
Montour trailed Chartiers Valley by 11 points in the third quarter, and then Wilson came alive. The kid who has played in five WPIAL title games in two different sports, the kid who never seems to flinch under pressure, made big play after big play in the final 14 minutes and led Montour to a 47-40 victory at Palumbo Center.
Vincentian Academy 86, Clairton 74
Vincentian Academy takes on Clairton in the WPIAL Class A Championship game at Palumbo Center. (Video by Andrew Rush; 3/1/2013)
Bishop Canevin 56, Seton-LaSalle 47
The Bishop Canevin girl's basketball team beats Seton-LaSalle for the WPIAL Class AA title. (Video by Kalea Hall; 03/01/2013)
The win gives Montour its second championship in the past three seasons, and Wilson was the starting point guard on both.
Wilson finished with 19 points, seven rebounds, a handful of assists and steals. A 6-foot-3 senior and one of the WPIAL's best players, Wilson had only two points in the first quarter and seven at halftime. Then, he did just about everything to bring the Spartans back in the second half.
He scored off drives to the basket, dished out some nice passes for layups and 3-pointers and also was 4 of 4 from the free-throw line in the final 30 seconds.
"The funny thing about it is that was probably the worst game he has played in a month and a half," said Montour coach Adam Kaufman. "But, when it mattered most, he did what he was supposed to do and what he always does. He took over the game. He scored, he defended, he rebounded and he made free throws."
Wilson had 12 points in the second half and was 4 of 5 from the field.
"I shouldn't say he played bad," Kaufman said. "But he did some things that were uncharacteristic of him in the first half. He had six turnovers, which doesn't happen often."
While Kaufman was certainly elated with his second championship, it was bittersweet. He is an eighth-grade teacher at Montour, and one of his students, Ryan Heitzenrater, passed away Thursday night of an illness.
"It's been a rough day," Kaufman said, holding back tears.
As for the game, Wilson was the only Montour player in double figures, but Kevin Scuilli had a few big 3-pointers and finished with nine points. Justin Hill also had nine.
For Chartiers Valley (22-4), 6-foot-6 center Spencer Casson had 18 points and 10 rebounds. Casson had 14 points in the first half to help the Colts grab a nine-point advantage. But he had only two shots in the second half.
"We didn't change anything," Kaufman said of the second half. "We thought they might stop going inside to him."
Chartiers Valley, trying to win its sixth WPIAL title under coach Tim McConnell, attempted only six 3-pointers in the first half, but was 0 of 9 behind the arc in the second.
Montour (22-4) had trouble with Casson from the outset. He had 10 points in the first quarter to help Chartiers Valley to an 18-11 lead after the Colts went on a 9-0 run late in the first quarter.
Chartiers Valley kept the surge going in the second. Casson got his third dunk of the game to help Chartiers Valley open a 26-14 lead. Haedyn Hertzler's 3-pointer gave the Colts their biggest advantage of the half, 29-16, with 3:09 remaining.
Casson was 7 of 9 from the field in the first half to go along with four rebounds. Chartiers Valley led at the break, 29-20. Casson's in-close shots helped Chartiers Valley shoot 59 percent (13 of 22) in the first half. Montour shot only 35 percent (7 of 20).
Chartiers Valley scored the first basket of the second half to take an 11-point lead. Then Montour came alive. The Spartans went on an 8-0 run to get back into the game and trailed by only 33-32 after three quarters.
Montour took the lead two minutes into the fourth quarter when Justin Hill scored off a pretty pass from Wilson. Then Montour got a gigantic 3-pointer from Scuilli, who came off a screen and nailed a shot near the top of the key to give Montour a 39-36 advantage with 2:53 left.
After Casson scored to make it 39-38, Scuilli got free against Chartiers Valley's press and nailed another 3-pointer to give Montour a 42-38 advantage. Scuilli has more than 250 career 3-pointers.
"We've talked about this before," Kaufman said. "He always finds a way to make the big ones."
The final minute and a half was frantic. Montour missed 5 of 6 free throws and turned the ball over twice. But Chartiers Valley had four turnovers and missed five of six shots in the final 1:30.
For more on high school sports, go to Varsity Blog at www.post-gazette.com/varsityblog. Mike White: email@example.com, 412-263-1975 and Twitter @mwhiteburgh. First Published March 2, 2013 5:00 AM