'Playoff' climate is key to win at Pittsburgh Basketball Club Classic

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It was only a non-section contest on a Sunday evening, but don't tell Seneca Valley it wasn't an important win.

Seneca Valley defeated Lincoln Park, 66-64, in overtime in the Pittsburgh Basketball Club Classic at La Roche College. Easton Bazzoli's two free throws with five seconds left gave the Raiders a win in one of six games at the day-long event.

Seneca Valley is the Post-Gazette's No. 4-ranked WPIAL Class AAAA team. Lincoln Park is only a Class A team, but the Leopards are No. 1 in the smallest classification and have plenty of talent and size. Juniors Elijah Minnie and Ryan Skovranko are 6 feet 8 and 6-6, respectively.

The win certainly could help Seneca Valley's reputation when the WPIAL does playoff seedings in a few weeks.

"We treated it like a playoff game. That's what we told the kids in the locker room," Seneca Valley coach Victor Giannotta said. "It was a neutral floor and Lincoln Park would be a [Class AAAA] playoff team if they were in our class. They're well-coached and they have some extremely talented players."

The victory came less than 24 hours after Seneca Valley (13-4) lost to North Allegheny in a Section 3 game.

"We're in a stretch of North Allegheny, Lincoln Park and then New Castle," Giannotta said. "So it means a lot."

But Lincoln Park almost ended up with the win in regulation when Minnie tipped in a missed shot just before the final buzzer. But officials ruled basket interference (goaltending) on Minnie, which nullified the basket and sent the game into overtime.

Minnie, who just became eligible to play a few weeks ago, finished with 22 points. Although he is 6-8, he played mostly on the outside for Lincoln Park and was 2 of 7 from 3-point range. Rowan, a freshman, made five 3-pointers and scored 17 points for Lincoln Park

Rowan's 3-pointer gave Lincoln Park (11-5) a 64-61 lead with 1:40 left in overtime. But Lincoln Park didn't score again.

USC wins again

In a battle between two of the top five teams in Class AAAA, Upper St. Clair knocked off Gateway, 59-56. It was the 10th win a row for fifth-ranked Upper St. Clair (13-3).

A big key to the game was 3-point shooting. Upper St. Clair made 10 of 23 (43 percent) 3-point attempts while Gateway was only 1 of 8 behind the arc.

"We have a lot of shooters," Upper St. Clair coach Danny Holzer said. "We're not real big, but if our shooters get going, they're pretty good."

Junior J.J. Conn led Upper St. Clair with 22 points, 19 in the first half. He had four 3-pointers. Senior guard Jordan Grabowski added 19, including four 3-pointers.

Deon Baker led fifth-ranked Gateway (11-3) with 16 points.

Other games

• In a contest featuring two of the best players in the WPIAL, Montour (13-4) defeated Shaler (7-11), 49-43. Shaler guard Geno Thorpe went head-to-head with Montour's Devin Wilson. Thorpe scored 25 before fouling out with 52 seconds left in the game. Wilson scored 13 for Montour. Justin Hill led Montour with 14. Thorpe is a Penn State recruit and Wilson has some scholarship offers from Division I colleges.

"It was good playing against him," Wilson said. "We played AAU together from sixth through ninth grade, so we know each other pretty well. He definitely beat me in the points [Sunday], but we got the 'W' and that's what counts."

• Michael Boulos and Matty McConnell each scored 19 points as Chartiers Valley (16-1) crushed Sto-Rox, 74-43. Boulos and McConnell combined for 28 first-half points as the Colts took a 46-16 lead on the Vikings (9-7).

• Aliquippa (6-10) led by 13 points after the third quarter and held off a late rally by West Allegheny (9-7) for a 71-65 win.

• Junior guard Dale Clancy scored 25 points to help Seton-LaSalle (15-2) to a 50-48 victory against Ambridge (8-7).

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