Central Valley boys net win with late spurt

TJ loses out again

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It was the same court, same situation and same outcome Tuesday for Thomas Jefferson.

The result had Jaguars coach Dom DeCicco feeling like he was repeating the words he had spoken exactly two weeks earlier

"To their credit, they close games out very well. They're very good at it," DeCicco said.

Central Valley 61, Thomas Jefferson 51

Central Valley beats Thomas Jefferson in a PIAA basketball playoff game.( Video by John Heller; 3/11/2014)

"They" would be the Central Valley Warriors, who once again had what it took to beat Thomas Jefferson in a postseason game.

Central Valley rallied from seven points down midway through the fourth quarter to grab another victory against Thomas Jefferson, 61-51, in a PIAA Class AAA second-round game at Chartiers Valley.

Central Valley (24-3), in its fourth year, advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time.

Friday night, the Warriors will meet Farrell (24-3), which beat Uniontown, 86-72, Tuesday night.

It marked the second time Central Valley has rallied from a late deficit to break Thomas Jefferson's heart.

The Warriors fought back from six points down with 2:01 left in regulation and slipped past the Jaguars, 68-59, in overtime in the WPIAL semifinals. The Warriors then won the WPIAL championship.

Tuesday, Thomas Jefferson led Central Valley, 47-40, with a little more than four minutes left in the fourth quarter. The Warriors, though, finished the game on an 11-4 run, holding the Jaguars to one field goal. Tony Gates gave the Warriors the lead for good on a layup with 3:10 left to make it 50-49.

"I thought there were times in the game where we didn't match their intensity," Central Valley coach Brandon Ambrose said.

"But the last three or four minutes, our intensity and defensive pressure was phenomenal. And that was the difference in the game."

Gates and Michael Sims led Central Valley with 14 points apiece.

Zach Talley scored a game-high 15 points for Thomas Jefferson (23-4), which was looking to reach the quarterfinals for the first time since 1987.

A big moment came with 3:27 left in the third quarter. After grabbing a rebound, Gates was shoved by Thomas Jefferson's Chase Winovich. The officials called a technical foul on Winovich and ejected him from the game.

"I'm not even sure [what happened]," Gates said. "My eyes were closed after I got the rebound. I just grabbed the ball and felt hands on my lips.

"I just fell back after he pushed me."

Winovich, the Jaguars' tallest player at 6-foot-4 and a Michigan football recruit, had been doing an excellent job of getting physical with 6-8 Central Valley center Matt Kline, who finished with 11 points.

After Winovich left, Gates made a pair of free throws and Sims followed with a 3-pointer to put Central Valley in front, 36-30.

But just when things looked like they were getting away from Thomas Jefferson, the Jaguars responded with a 10-0 run to take a 40-36 lead with 43 seconds left in the third quarter.

"To be honest, I sort of knew we were on borrowed time," DeCicco said.

"They battled and battled. Obviously, losing your center, especially when you're playing a 6-8 guy, is tough."

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