Levi Masua's height (6 feet 6) and Inspector Gadget arms had bothered Greensburg Central Catholic so many times in two games this year.
And with the game in the balance and a spot in a PIAA title game on the line Tuesday night, Masua's length made Greensburg Central Catholic come up short one last time.
Greensburg Central Catholic sharpshooter Brian Graytok took a couple dribbles and got some daylight near the top of the key with a few seconds left in the PIAA Class AA semifinal.
Masua lunged and stretched out a long arm that undoubtedly changed Graytok's shot. The ball went high, Masua held his breath -- and the shot fell short, bouncing off the rim with four seconds left. Seton-LaSalle rebounded and the Rebels were off to Hershey for the first time in 26 years.
Seton-LaSalle edged Greensburg Central Catholic, 46-44, at North Allegheny to earn a spot in Saturday's title game in Hershey against Constitution High of Philadelphia. The last time Seton-LaSalle played for a PIAA title was 1988 in Class AAA.
Masua was a key in the win, just like when Seton-LaSalle (29-1) beat Greensburg Central (25-4) a few weeks ago in the WPIAL title game. This time, Masua finished with 17 points, 13 rebounds and 6 blocked shots. He misdirected a number of other shots. And as for that last shot?
"Honestly, for some reason I just thought of that old clip with Allen Iverson crossing up Michael Jordan," Masua said with a laugh. "I said, 'Don't be Jordan.' That's the only time in my life I would ever say that. Then I just put my hand up and gave it my all."
Seton-LaSalle coach Mark "Knobby" Walsh said: "With Levi's length, I say he's 6-9. When he has his arm up, he's forcing a guy to shoot his arc sooner, especially on a deep 3-pointers. I thought he did a good job defensively throughout the game and we defended when we had to."
Seton-LaSalle needed plenty of defense the way it shot in two quarters. The Rebels shot 14 percent (5 of 36) in the first and third quarters. But they came back from a 17-7 first-quarter deficit to trail by only 23-22 at halftime.
Greensburg Central opened up a 36-24 lead with 4:33 left in the third quarter, but Seton-LaSalle held the Centurions without a field goal in the fourth quarter. Point guard Dale Clancy, who scored 13 points, tied the score, 40-40, in the fourth quarter. Masua's three-point play with 2:30 left gave the Rebels the lead for good, 43-42.
But Seton-LaSalle made things interesting. With the Rebels leading by two, Maik White missed a breakaway layup. Greensburg Central Catholic got the rebound and called a timeout with 34.3 seconds left. Christian Hyland missed a 3-pointer with 18 seconds left, but Greensburg Central rebounded and got the ball to Graytok.
After his miss, Christian DelGreco rebounded and was fouled with 2.8 seconds left. He missed a free throw, Graytok grabbed the rebound and almost pulled off a miracle shot, but his shot from well beyond halfcourt hit the rim.
For Seton-LaSalle, Ryan Norkus was key in the second half, scoring all 13 of his points. He also pulled down 10 rebounds. Graytok and Billy Hipp led Greensburg Central with 11 points apiece.
"Seton-LaSalle is a great team. They play hard and they played great defense," said Greensburg Central Catholic coach Greg Bisignani. "The bottom line is they got a couple rolls and a couple [official] calls and we didn't. When you play in a game like this, that's the difference."
Mike White: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1975 and Twitter @mwhiteburgh.