Class AA semifinal win for Beaver Falls sweetened by M&M

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

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 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," said Beaver Falls coach Doug Biega. "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 their 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 Elijah 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," said West Middlesex coach Chad Mild. "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 last time being, 51-45, after Matt Dogan made two free throws with 1:21 left.

In what was truly an all-around team 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,' " said Biega. "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 now look to win its first PIAA championship since 2005.

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

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