Pine-Richland tops Butler again to advance in Class 6A basketball
March 19, 2017 12:00 AM
Rebecca Droke / Post-Gazette
Nolan Rausch, right, came up big for Pine-Richland with 18 points Saturday in a Class 6A quarterfinal win against Butler. He brings the ball up against Luke Michalek.
By Mike White / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Pine-Richland’s Andrew Petcash, Phil Jurkovec and Andrew Kristofic are good for almost 50 points a game. Saturday, the points were harder to come by and the trio scored only a little more than half of their combined average.
But as has been the case so often in this memorable season for the Rams, some “other guy” raises his hand and answers a call for help. Saturday it was Nolan Rausch’s turn to be the “other guy.”
Rausch, a senior guard, scored a career-high 18 points and was instrumental in Pine-Richland beating Butler for the fourth time this season and moving the Rams forward in the PIAA playoffs. Pine-Richland defeated Butler, 64-58, in a Class 6A quarterfinal before a loud, capacity crowd at North Allegheny.
Rausch came into the game averaging only 5 points, but he made three 3-pointers and 7 of 10 from the free-throw line as Pine-Richland (27-1) moved into the semifinals for only the second time in school history (the other was 2000). The Rams will play Tuesday in the semifinals against Carlisle, which defeated Emmaus, 76-74, Saturday in double overtime in another quarterfinal.
Rausch hadn’t scored double figures in a game since Jan. 27 — against Butler.
“Nolan was due,” Pine-Richland coach Jeff Ackermann said. “[Sophomore guard] Greg Shulkosky has kind of outplayed him in the playoffs, but it was kind of just Nolan’s turn. … Our role players all have to step up and make other plays. That’s what we need, some guys to do little things. A lot of guys did a lot of little things today.”
Petcash, a senior guard, who averages 20, was held to eight points and took only six shots. Butler played a diamond-and-one defense against Petcash for much of the first half and it limited Petcash’s offensive touches. Jurkovec, a junior forward who averages 16, had 11 points, but only four in the second half. Andrew Kristofic, a sophomore center who averages 11, had 12 points, but only one in the second half.
“If you would’ve told me before the game that Andrew and myself wouldn’t have 20 points between us, I would think we might be in trouble,” Jurkovec said. “But I knew Nolan was going to step up one of these games.”
Besides Rausch, Pine-Richland got eight points from senior guard Evan Luellen and senior guard Sean Colosimo came off the bench to hit a big 3-pointer to give the Rams a four-point lead early in the fourth quarter. Pine-Richland pushed the advantage to 54-47 before Butler (19-10) cut it to 57-55 with 1:23 left on Tyler Frederick’s free throws. But Rausch made two free throws with 1:02 left, and Butler had three missed three shots and a turnover on their next four possessions.
“You can have a game plan that can work, but you can still lose,” Butler coach Matt Clement said. “We knew if we shut down [Petcash and Jurkovec], you roll the dice with everybody else. This game, it was a combination of a number of guys who picked up their stars.”
Freshman guard Ethan Morton looked terrific in the first half for Butler, scoring 14 points. But Jurkovec guarded Morton in the second half and Morton finished with 21. Jurkovec also had seven rebounds and four blocks.
Mike White: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @mwhiteburgh.
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