Class AA Boys: Superior shooting lifts Jeannette to title game
Terrelle Pryor, left, and coach Jim Nesser celebrate.
Jeannette's Jordan Hall shoots over North East's Aaron Meehl last night. Hall scored 17 points to help the Jayhawks advance to the PIAA Class AA final Saturday at Penn State.
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SHARON, Pa. -- The Jeannette boys' basketball team attended its first anger-management class yesterday, as part of a penalty the WPIAL placed on the team for a fight after a game last week.
"The kids said they enjoyed it," Jeannette coach Jim Nesser said of the class. "They said they learned some things about themselves."
By nightfall, North East's team learned something about the Jayhawks. They can shoot.
Jeannette shot a torrid 76 percent from the field in the first half, jumped to a 16-point halftime lead and went on to defeat District 10 champion North East, 75-66, in a PIAA Class AA semifinal last night at Sharon.
A sellout crowd of more than 2,500 attended the contest and hundreds also were turned away at the gate.
Jeannette (24-4) moves into a PIAA title game for the first time in school history. The Jayhawks will play 2 p.m. Saturday at Penn State's Bryce Jordan Center against Philadelphia Strawberry Mansion (23-5), which defeated Imhotep Charter, 80-68, in the other semifinal.
Jeannette also has a chance to win PIAA football and basketball titles in the same school year. Only one other school (General McLane last year) has accomplished that feat, but Steelton-Highspire also is trying to do the football-basketball double this weekend.
"Now is the easy part. The hard part is getting to the championship," Nesser said. "But how special is this group of athletes?"
The Jayhawks' shooting in the first two quarters was extra special. Jeannette made 19 of 25 shots in the first half, including 6 of 6 from 3-point range. Jeannette led at halftime, 47-31. The point total would be significant, no matter the opponent. But North East, which came in with a 29-1 record, had held 21 opponents below 47 points for the entire game.
Jeannette "cooled" off in the second half, shooting a mere 55 percent (12 of 22). But the damage had been done. North East never got closer than seven points in the second half.
Junior point guard Jordan Hall and senior guard-forward Terrelle Pryor led Jeannette with 17 points apiece. Senior guard-forward Shaw Sunder added 14 and junior guard Cam Baradziej came off the bench to score 14.
Pryor had a triple-double with 14 rebounds and 10 assists. He also had 4 blocked shots.
Pryor moved his career point total to 2,262 points and passed Pine-Richland's Allan MacQuarrie and Blackhawk's Dante Calabria to move into 10th place on the WPIAL's all-time scoring list.
Sunder made 6 of 9 shots, including both 3-point attempts. Hall was 4 of 5 from 3-point range.
"We think we're kind of underrated as shooters," Sunder said. "You can tell by the way teams play defense against us. They'll triple-team Terrelle and leave us open. We look at that as an opportunity for us."
North East's biggest starter was 6-foot-1 Mike Rouse, so the Grapepickers relied on their shooting. But they made only 36 percent (18 of 50) through the first three quarters.
"You all know we lied. Our tallest starter isn't even 6 feet," North East coach Tom Pyle said.
"We thought if we could keep the game relatively close, we could maybe wear them down and get them in the middle of the third quarter. We got it down to seven points and had a chance to make some plays. But we missed shots we normally make, and when we got into the paint, we weren't large enough to finish plays."
North East had four players in double figures, led by guard Ryan Szwejbka with 16.
First Published March 13, 2008 12:00 am