South Xtra: Peters Twp. continues to battle for playoff bid
Senior Gabe Pritz has done his best to keep Peters Township in contention for a WPIAL playoff berth.
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The 2012-13 season has not gone the way the Peters Township High School basketball team envisioned.
The Indians hoped to be a contender for the championship in WPIAL Class AAAA Section 4, especially with high-scoring swingman Gabe Pritz back for his senior season after helping Peters Township go 12-12 last year and win a game in the WPIAL playoffs.
Instead, Peters Township (8-12, 5-8) is languishing below .500 but remarkably is in a wild scramble for a WPIAL playoff berth. Upper St. Clair (17-3, 12-1) has clinched the section title and Bethel Park (16-4, 10-3) is locked into second place. Third-place Mt. Lebanon (10-11, 7-6) has also clinched a playoff spot.
After that, things get a little, uhm, how should we put this ... crazy!
Three teams are tied for fourth place, Peters, Canon-McMillan (10-11, 5-8) and Moon Area (9-11, 5-8). The other two teams in the section -- Trinity (10-11, 4-9) and Baldwin (8-13, 4-9)-- were just a game behind. But because Peters and Canon-Mac will play head to head, one of them has to finish with six victories, thus eliminating the Hillers and Highlanders. All of which leaves Peters Township coach Gary Goga perplexed, to say the least.
"We just haven't played good basketball for any sustained stretch of time all season," Goga said. "It's frustrating. I'm frustrated. The kids are frustrated. It's been a frustrating season."
Goga then paused.
"I think a lot of teams in our section are frustrated," Goga said. "There are a lot of teams that haven't played as well as they would probably like."
Peters Township actually had some momentum going before it lost to Trinity, on Jan. 26, having won its previous three games. That marked the only time all season that the Indians had even won back-to-back games.
But the Indians came up ice-cold shooting that night, going 2 for 25 shooting from 3-point range in a 60-46 loss at home to their Washington County rivals.
Peters has rarely been blown out, however, as just three of its 12 losses had been by double digits. Six defeats have been by six points or fewer.
"All the close losses have made it frustrating," Goga said. "We're really not that far away from having a pretty decent record. You can look back at a lot of games and think if we had shot better from the foul line or done some other things well, we would have won.
"It will be tough to swallow if we miss the playoffs because it could be the type of a season where we'd wonder what would have happened if we made about a dozen more plays."
The season isn't over yet, though.
The Indians finish the section season visiting Canon-McMillan Friday then has a non-section home game against Fox Chapel on Monday.
For the Indians to qualify for the playoffs, a victory against the neighboring Big Macs is a must. Because the Indians have swept the season series against Moon, they will get the section's fourth berth.
Having Pritz, a 6-foot-5 senior, gives Peters Township a chance to be competitive in any game as he is averaging 20.9 points a game.
"Gabe is having a great year but the problem is that he's scoring about half our points," Goga said. "As good as he is, he can't do it all by himself. We've been waiting all year to get some consistent secondary scoring.
"It's going to have to happen soon because we're just about to the end of the season. We still have a chance, though, but have to play better."
First Published February 7, 2013 12:00 am