Youth is served; Hampton lands in title game
New Castle's Shawn Anderson, right, drives for a shot against Beaver's Corey Nesmith in one Class AAA semifinal Tuesday.
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With two sophomores and a freshman in the starting lineup, and a freshman and sophomore as the top two players off their bench, the Hampton Talbots' best days should be in the next few years.
But these are a bunch of impatient teenage Talbots. They're not waiting for glory days.
Hampton seized the moment and earned a trip to a WPIAL title game, knocking off defending champion Montour, 52-42, in a Class AAA semifinal Tuesday night at Chartiers Valley. The win puts Hampton (22-3) in the title game Friday for the fourth time in the past six years.
"I don't know if it's sunk in yet to the extent of how young we are, but we're playing in the WPIAL championship," said Hampton coach Joe Lafko. "It's just a great feeling in that locker room to be going. The kids are excited, I'm excited, everyone's excited."
Hampton used a little bit of experience and a little bit of youth to knock off Montour (19-4). Mark Pilarski, a 6-foot-6 senior center, scored a game-high 18 points. Sophomore guard Ryan Luther added 13 and freshman guard David Huber 10. The Talbots used an efficient offense, getting three 3-pointers from Luther, and a strong inside game from Pilarski, who made 7 of 10 shots.
The other key to the game was Montour's outside shooting, which must have gotten lost somewhere on I-79 on the short bus ride from Montour. Hampton played a 1-3-1 zone defense and a triangle-and-two against Montour. In the triangle defense, Hampton guarded sharpshooters Dillon Buechel and Kevin Scuilli man-to-man while three other defenders played a zone. The Talbots let some other Montour players shoot from the outside as much as they wanted.
For the game, Montour shot 29 percent (15 of 52), and the Spartans made only 20 percent (6 of 30) from 3-point range. Buechel finished with 13 points and three 3-pointers, but two of those were late when the outcome was decided. Devin Wilson, Montour's outstanding junior point guard who is excellent at slashing to the basket, was 4 of 14 from the field.
Of course, it helps when you can play a zone with two 6-6 players and a 6-5 player, like Hampton.
"We shot it poorly, and a lot of that had to do with them guarding us," said Montour coach Adam Kaufman. "They packed it in and took away a lot of our penetration. To top it off, we quit trying to penetrate. We started settling for shots, and that snowballed and snowballed and snowballed."
Hampton took control in the third quarter.
After trailing, 21-20, at halftime, the Talbots scored the first 10 points of the third quarter, with six coming on two 3-pointers by Luther. Hampton outscored Montour, 18-2, in the third quarter as Montour shot 1 of 10.Hampton took a 38-23 lead into the final quarter, and the closest Montour got was 41-33 with 4:24 left.
"I'm just ecstatic," Pilarski said. "It's every senior's dream to play in the big show. I'm so happy I can barely describe it to you."
• New Castle 72, Beaver 31: New Castle outscored Beaver, 30-7, in the second quarter and cruised from there, beating the Bobcats to advance to the WPIAL title game with a 25-0 record. New Castle forced 27 turnovers, including 19 in the first half to blow the game wide open. New Castle led, 49-15, at halftime.
"What it comes down to is just making them play faster than they really want to play more than anything else," New Castle coach Ralph Blundo said. "You end up generating turnovers just by doing that."
Beaver (18-7), aiming for its first title game, was uncomfortable, shooting 17.1 percent. New Castle shot 46 percent. New Castle's Malik Hooker had a double-double with 10 points, 10 rebounds. Shawn Anderson led New Castle with 20 points.
First Published February 29, 2012 12:00 am