East Xtra: Greensburg CC reflects after coming up a point shy

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On another day things could've gone differently for the Greensburg Central Catholic boys basketball team.

The No. 2-seeded Centurions (22-3) lost to No. 1 Seton-LaSalle, 52-51, in last Saturday's Class AA WPIAL final. The back-and-forth contest featured 14 lead changes and six ties.

A day later, Greensburg Central Catholic coach Greg Bisignani maintained a pretty positive perspective on the final, all things considered.

"We're lucky to be in a position where we can lose and our season continues," he said.

Deflated by the loss? Sure he was, and admittedly so. But who wouldn't be the day after coming up short in the WPIAL title game?

"When you come out on the losing end you don't appreciate [the accomplishment] at first," he said. "But I think [the team] will look back in a few years and appreciate what it was."

This was the second time Bisignani guided Greensburg Central Catholic to the WPIAL championship game in his five years at the team's helm. In the 2011 WPIAL final, the Centurions lost to Monessen, 63-43.

What made this result perhaps a little harder to swallow was the expectation. Last time around, Bisignani felt the team was maybe a little awestruck in the final. That, he said, wasn't the case this time.

He also felt this year's team possessed a mix of skills and intangibles that could allow it to capture a WPIAL title for the first time in school history. Unfortunately, the Centurions came up short.

"I don't think you can talk to a coach in any sport where you don't dissect things over and over," he said. "I know the kids were doing it in the locker room. I told them it definitely wasn't their effort, they definitely gave 100 percent. They just didn't make some shots.

"In a championship game, those little things make a big difference."

In basketball, teams typically combine for more than 100 possessions a game, take dozens of shots and make even more decisions, mostly reactionary and on the fly. Sitting back and reflecting on everything that happened in a high-pressure game -- each shot, pass, turnover and misstep -- there's countless ways to find room for criticism.

But at a certain point, it's time to move on, and Bisignani said it's his job to make sure that happens sooner rather than later.

"They're disappointed be-cause they wanted to win, but I'll be disappointed as a coach this week if they're not working really hard at practice," he said. "Part of coaching is dealing with losses."

As he said, the Centurions' run afforded them a berth in the PIAA tournament and an opportunity to extend their season. They'll meet up with Bald Eagle Area (20-5) out of District 6 at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Hempfield High School.

In 2011, Bisignani saw his team regroup after its loss in the WPIAL final and make a run to the PIAA final. En route, they upended Monessen, 64-61, in the semifinals.

"I thought in 2011 when they lost in the WPIAL final, it was motivation," Bisignani said. "They wanted to prove themselves."

He thinks this year's senior-laden roster has the mental toughness required to put the loss behind it and the skill and work ethic to make another run in the state tournament.

"Maybe the best thing I could say about them is that they represent the school really well," he said.

The Centurions start four seniors, including leading scorer Brian Graytok, who averaged 17.5 points per game during the regular season.

Billy Hipp, Romano Sebastiani and Christian Hyland also averaged double-digit scoring totals per game in the regular season. Bisignani's son, Collin, is 6 feet 8 and rounds out the starting five with an interior presence, as he averages nearly 10 rebounds a game.

"It's easy to coach when you have good kids, bottom line," coach Bisignani said. "When you have kids who are committed, work hard, follow instruction and, on top of that, have some skill, they make coaches look good. It's not me, it's the kids.

"All of our seniors are perfect examples of [that mindset]."

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