Bethel Park boys hang on for key victory


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When Bethel Park faced Mt. Lebanon Jan. 18, the Black Hawks scored 32 points in a two-point loss.

Bethel Park reached that total in the first half of a rematch Friday night to open up a nice lead, then had to hold on in the fourth quarter.

The Black Hawks (14-4, 9-3) watched a 12-point second-half lead dwindle to two, but they hit 10 of 14 free throws in the final quarter to cling to a 52-47 home victory against the Blue Devils (9-10, 7-4) in Class AAAA Section 4.

"It doesn't matter how much you win by," Bethel Park coach Ben O'Connor said. "Sure, it's great to go win by 26, but to beat a quality section team like Mt. Lebanon on our floor in front of a nice crowd, it feels good. I love my guys."

The Black Hawks' game plan was to have guards Joe Mascaro and Anthony Bomar drive into the lane and kick the ball out to the team's open shooters, which would help neutralize the size advantage Mt. Lebanon enjoyed with 6-foot-7 Patrick Ehland and 6-6 Matthew Collins inside.

The plan worked well early, as the Black Hawks hit five 3-pointers in first half -- three by Josh Krafczynski and two by R.J. Pfeuffer -- to build a 32-23 halftime lead.

"We have multiple guys who can distribute the ball to multiple shooters on the court," Krafczynski said. "So we just look to drive and kick and drive and kick. Just do what we can to move the ball around."

But Mt. Lebanon played much more aggressively on the perimeter in the second half to limit Bethel Park's good looks, and the Black Hawks missed many of the open shots they created.

After Danny Breit hit a layup with 1:25 to go in the third quarter to put Bethel Park up, 42-30, the Black Hawks didn't make another field goal.

"We tried to put some more pressure on them and be the attacker [in the second half]," Mt. Lebanon coach Joe David said.

"Just attack them a little more off the double team of our 1-3-1 trap, and I think that threw them off a little bit. And quite honestly, they just missed shots."

Mt. Lebanon took advantage, going on a 10-0 run to cut Bethel Park's lead to 42-40 with 4:45 remaining in the fourth quarter.

After Bethel Park converted 6 of 6 free throws to extend the lead to eight, the Blue Devils made a final run to get within three at 50-47. They had the ball with 16.9 seconds left, but Jonny David, who had a game-high 15 points, missed a 3-pointer and Pfeuffer made two free throws to seal the win.

Mascaro scored 12 points to lead the Black Hawks, who remained one game behind first-place Upper St. Clair in the section with two league games remaining.

"We have to take care of our own business and let the other stuff take care of itself," O'Connor said.

"It's coming down to Friday night. It's fun, though."

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