The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local Sports

February 22, 2013

Hilltoppers too much for Cats

JOHNSTOWN — Pitt-Johnstown did everything it could to slow down high-powered West Liberty.

The Mountain Cats played aggressive man defense. When that didn’t work, they sunk into a 2-3 zone – something the Mountain Cats rarely do.

Like any defense thrown at the Hilltoppers the past several seasons, nothing Pitt-Johnstown did worked effectively against Division II’s third-ranked team as West Liberty wore down the hosts for a 98-83 victory Thursday night at the Sports Center.

“You try to control the tempo, but it’s tough,” said Pitt-Johnstown coach Bob Rukavina. “We have guys who can score. We’re a good offensive team, but the difference is they made 17 3-pointers out of

35 attempts. You can’t do that running through warm-ups.”

West Liberty (26-1), which raised its West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic conference-leading record to 20-1, certainly can.

The Hilltoppers continually looked for the long-range shot from every position on the court.

Big men Chris Morrow (18 points) and Seger Bonifant (11 points) combined to make nine 3-pointers, and when the Hilltoppers weren’t making shots from every possible angle and distance, they dissected the game Pitt-Johnstown defense for looks inside. That’s where senior Alex Falk, part of a class that won its 120th game on Thursday, did much of his work on way to a game-high 32 points.

“We see teams that have a very hard time getting out to our shooters,” West Liberty coach Jim Crutchfield said. “If they do, we look to drive lanes and we tend to get layups.”

Pitt-Johnstown (14-11, 10-11) hung with West Liberty into the second half behind strong play from senior guards Nick Novak and Jordan Miller and some help from

6-9 center Ian Vescovi (17 points).

“No matter how much you try, if you don’t play that way every day, they start to bother you,” Miller said. “That’s a very good offensive team.”

Novak finished with 27 points on 11 of

20 shooting and Miller scored 14 points, but the Mountain Cats were outscored 21-9 during a key second-half stretch after pulling within 68-65 on a Novak layup.

“We stuck with them for a half while all our energy was going,” Novak said. “In the second half, we started getting tired and they don’t make mistakes and they’re always ready to take advantage of your mistakes.”

The Pitt-Johnstown women hung with West Liberty for more than a half. In fact, the Lady Cats controlled most of the game before a late second-half spurt by the Hilltoppers forced overtime and led to a 98-90 West Liberty victory.

Hillary Southworth, the second-leading scorer in Division II, finished with 43 points for the Hilltoppers (18-7, 16-5), who trailed by as many as 16 points in the first half and 74-61 late in the second half.

“I preach to them to play hard for 40 minutes. They played hard, but some things cost us at the end,” Pitt-Johnstown coach Sasha Palmer said.

Kaitlynn Fratz and Nicole Carman scored 24 points apiece for UPJ.

To read stories in their entirety, visit one of these links:

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat print edition.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local Sports
  • Pirates 0720 Pirates rally to keep sweep

    Taking the extra base was the key for the Pittsburgh Pirates in completing a three-game sweep of the Colorado Rockies.
    Andrew McCutchen hit a tiebreaking single in the seventh inning, Neil Walker followed with a home run and the Pirates overcame a three-run deficit to beat the Rockies 5-3 Sunday.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • LAG 0720 AAABA League playoffs: Laurel Auto Group moves closer to advancing

    Second-seeded Laurel Auto Group fell behind early against No. 3 Berkley Hills Renegades on Sunday afternoon at Roxbury Park. But Laurel’s players didn’t lose their composure.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Urtz, Pope lead AAABA League award votes

    Logan Urtz hadn’t fielded a ground ball as an infielder or swung a bat in a game for a couple seasons.
    But you can’t take the former infielder out of a starting pitcher.

    July 20, 2014

  • mart & lag Martella’s, LAG sending top arms to mound

    Nathan Pope will occupy a spot traditionally reserved for a Pete Vuckovich Award winner on opening night.
    The Martella’s Pharmacy right-hander will get the ball on opening night of the 70th annual All American Amateur Baseball Association Tournament on Monday at Point Stadium. First pitch is at 7:30 p.m.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bishop Guilfoyle, Somerset tapped as LHAC’s best

    A few football seasons ago, Bishop Guilfoyle and Somerset probably weren’t near the top of any preseason polls or banter in the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference.
    Times have changed.

    August 1, 2014

  • Steelers kick contract to Suisham

    Shaun Suisham doesn’t seem to mind kicking at Heinz Field.
    The most accurate kicker in Pittsburgh Steelers’ history parlayed his consistency into a four-year contract extension that runs through the 2018 season.

    August 1, 2014

  • Gorden, Joe Tribune-Democrat sports staffer departs after 44 years in newsroom

    Joe Gorden’s temporary assignment to The Tribune-Democrat sports department concluded on Thursday night after more than four decades.
    Gorden retired after 44 years at the newspaper, all but three of them in the sports department.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Steelers 0731 Steelers’ Brown eyeing encore to breakout season

    Antonio Brown rolled up to the dorms at Saint Vincent College last week in a Mercedes conversion van.
    It’s fitting in a way. Five years into a blossoming career, the Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver is playing the role of dad – OK, maybe slightly older brother – to a group long on talent but short on experience.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bucs stand pat at non-waiver deadline

    The Pittsburgh Pirates will receive some welcome additions to their roster in the coming days.
    The faces, however, will be familiar.

    July 31, 2014

  • Blairsville pegged as team to beat

    As Heritage Conference football coaches assembled at United High School during Wednesday’s media day event at Thomas J. Madill Field, the near-consensus opinion is that Blairsville – under second-year coach Rick Artley – is going to be the team to beat once the season begins on Aug. 29.
    After the Bobcats, the forecasted picture gets a little foggier.

    July 30, 2014