Beaver Falls' semifinal victtory sweetened by M&M

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SHARON, Pa. -- The Beaver Falls Tigers had chocolate on their minds.

It only made sense that some M&M's satisfied their sweet tooth.

Mason and Miller were the story for Beaver Falls, as Micoy Mason and Zachary Miller came off the bench to provide a huge spark in the second half and lead the Tigers to Hershey, Pa., after a 59-47 win against West Middlesex Tuesday night in a PIAA Class AA semifinal at Sharon High School.

Beaver Falls (27-3), the PIAA runner-up a season ago, advances to take on District 2 champion Holy Cross (27-5) at 2 p.m. Saturday at Giant Center. Holy Cross defeated Camp Hill Trinity, 53-39, in another semifinal.

Often overshadowed by the play of some of their teammates, Mason and Miller took center stage against District 10 champion West Middlesex (25-4).

The duo scored all 20 of their points in the second half, enabling Beaver Falls to rally from a 25-22 halftime deficit. Mason finished with 12 points and Miller had eight.

"That's what their supposed to do," Beaver Falls coach Doug Biega said. "Elijah [Cottrill] and Drew [Cook] can do a lot of the heavy-lifting. If [Mason and Miller] stay within themselves and do what they're supposed to do, which is make open shots, then we're pretty tough to beat."

Trailing, 28-24, with 4:23 left in the third quarter, Beaver Falls made its move. The Tigers went on a 16-4 run to end the quarter -- scoring the final eight points -- and the spurt was sparked by Mason and Miller, both seniors guards.

Mason gave Beaver Falls its first lead since early in the second quarter by hitting a 3-pointer with 4:12 left in the third quarter to give the Tigers a 29-28 lead. After Jeremy Jancso scored to put West Middlesex back in front, 30-29, Miller knocked down a 3-pointer to give Beaver Falls a 32-30 advantage.

Jancso scored again to tie it, but Cottrill's 3-point play with 3:14 left in the quarter put Beaver Falls ahead, 35-32. The Tigers led the rest of the way.

"I thought that stretch in the third quarter really hurt us," West Middlesex coach Chad Mild said. "A couple of [their reserves] hit some big threes out there."

Added Mason: "I was wide open. My teammates got me the ball and I knocked them down."

Miller made another 3-pointer with 5:02 left in the fourth to extend Beaver Falls' lead to 43-32. West Middlesex cut the deficit to six three times in the quarter, the final time being, 51-45, after Matt Dogan made two free throws with 1:21 left.

In what was truly an all-around effort, Javon Turner led Beaver Falls with 12 points, Cook had 11 and Cottrill added 9.

Beaver Falls did an excellent job defending Dogan, West Middlesex's leading scorer. Dogan, a 6-foot-5 senior guard, averages 25 points per game, but was held to 15. Dogan is known as a player who gets to the free-throw line a lot -- he was 19 of 20 in a quarterfinal win -- but he was just 3 of 3 against Beaver Falls.

"I wrote it on the board, 'Keep Dogan off the foul line,' " Biega said. "Because he gets like Jordan rules. I said if he were single digits in his free-throw attempts, then we were good."

Beaver Falls, which also defeated West Middlesex in the season opener, will look to win its first PIAA championship since 2005.

Said Turner: "We're going to Hershey. I can't wait."

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