Montour sets pace late, holds on for PIAA quarterfinal win
General McLane's Jaymon Mason, left, defends Montour's Devin Wilson in the PIAA Class AAA quarterfinals Friday at New Castle High School. Montour won, 42-40.
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Two of the most prolific 3-point shooters in the WPIAL couldn't hit their mark Friday night from long range.
That's OK. They hit plenty of bull's-eyes elsewhere.
Kevin Scuilli and Rob Julian were 8 of 8 from the free-throw line in the final 39 seconds to lead Montour to the PIAA Class AAA semifinals for the third year in a row after a 42-40 win against District 10 champion General McLane in a quarterfinal at New Castle.
Montour (25-4) will next play Tuesday against Archbishop Carroll (22-6), which is just outside of Philadelphia.
It was the second year in a row Montour defeated General McLane (22-6) in the quarterfinals. A season ago, Montour knocked off an undefeated General McLane, 48-38, on its way to the championship for the second year in a row.
Scuilli and Julian each have hit more than 60 3-pointers this season, but had just one apiece Friday. Montour (25-4) was 3 of 16 overall.
It ultimately didn't matter, as Montour's terrific defense, excellent free-throw shooting and end-of-game execution more than made up for the poor outside shooting.
Montour led the entire game, but General McLane pulled within a point at 34-33 after making one of two free throws with 3:45 left. Montour then decided to start "taking the air out of the ball." Montour point guard Devin Wilson took possession off the ball and held it until he drove for a missed a layup with 2:40 left. General McLane's Jaymon Mason grabbed the rebound and raced up court, but was called for a charge with 2:32 remaining.
Montour took possession again and held the ball until General McLane fouled Kevin Scuilli twice, the second putting the Spartans into the bonus with 39.9 seconds left.
Montour coach Adam Kaufman said the decision to hold the ball was because Wilson and teammate Justin Hill each had four fouls. Kaufman was afraid that missing a shot and allowing General McLane to regain possession could become a serious problem. Mason led District 10 in scoring this season with 27 points per game.
"My thinking was, if we shoot the ball and we miss, Mason is going to attack us and we have a chance of fouling out one of our two best ballhandlers. That, or they're going to be scared to foul and he's going to be able to get to the rim. We were just kind of playing the percentages," Kaufman said.
After being fouled, Scuilli made two free throws to put Montour in front, 36-33. Mason missed a 3-pointer, and Scuilli made two more free throws with 26 seconds left. Mason scored on a driving layup to make it 38-35, and Scuilli followed with two more free throws to make it 40-35. General McLane scored to pull within 40-37 with 11 seconds left, but Julian made two free throws with 10 seconds left to extend the lead to 42-37. Mason made a 3-pointer just before the buzzer to provide the final points.
"This is our third year going to state playoffs. At this point you just know you have to calm down and knock them down," Scuilli said.
General McLane was 5 of 14 from the free-throw line, including 2 of 5 in the fourth quarter.
Wilson scored 13 points and was the only Montour player in double figures. The matchup between he and Mason -- arguably two of the top point guards in the western half of the state -- was intriguing. Wilson is more of a pass-first player and distributor; Mason is a scorer. Mason finished with 22 points.
Wilson, who has started two PIAA and two WPIAL championships, said this was a night where big-game experience paid off.
"It definitely helped a lot because this was a tight game," Wilson said. "We just tried to stay patient and run our offense."
Montour led by as many as eight points in the second quarter and held a 20-16 halftime advantage. The Spartans led, 30-26, after three. Montour had only two field goals in the fourth quarter, both by Wilson in the first 1:19.
"They're so hard to defend," said General McLane coach Andy Schulz, who has won 600 career games. "It's their pace and what they do."
First Published March 16, 2013 12:00 am