PIAA basketball championships: Beaver Falls beaten in OT in Class AA final
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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- In the middle of his team's locker room after the game, Beaver Falls coach Doug Biega sat in a chair and had to look at a number of players in tears. Big, strong teenagers sobbed while Biega told his team he had never coached a group that had overcome so many adversities off the court and still reached great heights.
"I know I will not have another group that I care about so much," Biega told his players. "You guys have my heart and you will for the rest of your lives."
But on this day, it was Imhotep Charter that took Beaver Falls' heart.
Imhotep Charter, a Philadelphia Public League school, literally stole a state championship from Beaver Falls in regulation and then beat Beaver Falls in overtime, 56-54, in the PIAA Class AA title game Saturday at Penn State's Bryce Jordan Center.
It was a game that lacked smooth play, but there was no lack of drama as Imhotep Charter (22-8) won its second consecutive PIAA title.
"We took their best punches and they took ours," said Sheldon Jeter, Beaver Falls' star forward. "They were the last one standing."
Beaver Falls (28-3) came back from a nine-point deficit in the final five minutes and had a two-point lead and the ball out of bounds with 25.5 seconds remaining. But Imhotep Charter stole a pass from Jeter in the backcourt and Shakur Nesmith scored with 21 seconds left to tie the score. Jeter missed a long 3-pointer at the end of regulation.
The final seconds of overtime were pulsating. Beaver Falls' Drew Cook scored with 6.3 seconds left to bring Beaver Falls within 56-54, and the Tigers immediately called a timeout.
Imhotep Charter's Brandon Austin, a Penn State recruit, was fouled with 4.2 seconds left and missed both of his attempts. Beaver Falls rebounded and quickly passed the ball to Cook, a junior guard who looked like he was going to stop and shoot a 3-pointer. Instead, he drove into the key and his 12-footer was short as time expired. The shot might have been released after the buzzer anyway.
"We had a pretty decent look. It just didn't fall," Biega said.
And with that, Beaver Falls fell after winning eight postseason games by at least 10 points. The players took the loss hard.
"It really stinks to walk out like this," Jeter said. "But I'm not going to hang my head too much because I had a great career."
Jeter, a 6-foot-7 senior who has Penn State on his final list of colleges, took the loss hard, but showed plenty of character after the game, taking blame for the loss. Jeter had 22 points and 11 rebounds, but was 10 of 32 from the field. He struggled from 3-point range, missing all 10 of his shots from behind the arc. But a number of the 3-pointers were forced and off-balance attempts.
"It's all on me," Jeter said. "I got frustrated because my jumper wasn't falling. I was like, 'I gotta get one to fall, I gotta get one to go in' when I should've just went to the hoop. We paid the price for that."
Imhotep featured Austin, a junior guard who has committed to Penn State. Austin had 13 points and 13 rebounds, but also turned the ball over seven times.
"He made more plays than I did and that's why I feel we lost," said a somber Jeter. "If I would've made a couple more plays here and there, I think we could've won, but I didn't get it done."
Biega thought fatigue played a role in Jeter's shooting, but Biega said he had to have Jeter on the court, especially on defense.
"It was one of those games you just had to ride your horse until the end," Biega said.
For Beaver Falls, Cook and sophomore guard Elijah Cottrill scored 11 points apiece. Guard Khyree Wooten led Imhotep Charter with 15 points.
Beaver Falls was 8 of 18 from the free-throw line, but Imhotep was 10 of 23.
"We didn't make the plays we needed to at the very end," Biega said. "Obviously, we'd be happier if we had won, but there have been major incidents this year that have happened around these kids in their lives, but they battled through with poise and character. To me, the lessons they learned in life this year are far more important than the shade of a medal. It's a cliché, but they are champions in my book."
First Published March 25, 2012 12:00 am