Pine-Richland coach Jeff Ackermann says he preaches to his role players about making the little plays.
"They all have to step up," Ackermann said, "and make the 'other' plays, the loose balls, defend, take a charge, whatever it is."
Nolan Rausch said "how 'bout scoring?"
With Pine-Richland's top two scorers having an off game in points, Rausch had the best scoring game of his career. Rausch (pictured below) scored 18 points and was big in Pine-Richland's 64-58 victory against Butler in a PIAA Class 6A quarterfinal today in front of a capacity crowd at North Allegheny.
Rausch, a senior guard, hadn't scored in double figures since Jan. 27 - against Butler. He is averaging only five points a game for the season.
"When we came into this game, I wouldn't think he would be our leading scorer, but he was," said Ackermann.
Andrew Petcash, Pine-Richland's leading scorer at 20 points a game, was held to eight. Butler played a diamond-and-one defense on Petcash for much of the first half and then defended him well in a man-to-man defense the rest of the way. Petcash took only six shots.
Phil Jurkovec, Pine-Richland's second-leading scorer at 16 ppg, made only 4 of 12 shots and scored 11. Andrew Kristofic had 12 points and eight rebounds, but only one point in the second half.
Like the first three meetings between these two, this one was close. Pine-Richland led at halftime, 32-31. Pine-Richland opened up a seven-point lead early in the fourth quarter, but Butler closed to 57-55 on Tyler Frederick's two free throws with 1:23 left.
But Rausch made two free throws 22 seconds later, and Butler missed three shots and had a turnover on their next four possessions.
Freshman Ethan Morton showed his wonderful talent again, leading Butler with 21 points. He had 14 at halftime, but Jurkovec guarded him in the second half and held him to seven. Jurkovec finished with seven rebounds and four blocked shots. Joel Stutz had 15 and Frederick 12 for Butler.
"We're up one at the half, Phil and 'Cash had combined for eight points and Morton had 14," said Ackermann. "So I thought we were in a good spot. I thought Phil would be Phil and 'Cash would be 'Cash. But I felt like we could control Morton. Phil kind of stopped his dribble penetration in the second half and made him just a shooter."
Butler made only 5 of 23 3-point shots. Afterward, Butler coach Matt Clement got emotional talking about his team.
"Every senior class is important to you and every person who puts on this uniform is important for me," said Clement. "But these guys were just different."
Pine-Richland will play in the semifinals Tuesday against Carlisle, which defeated Emmaus, 76-74, in double overtime in another quarterfinal Saturday.
Meadville 53, Mars 46: Cade Hetzler scored on a layup to cut Meadville's lead to 47-46 with 1:46 to go, but Mars didn't score again and lost this 5A game. Robby Carmody scored 25 points for Mars, but had only two in the fourth quarter when Meadville outscored the Planets, 14-6. Mars held Armoni Foster (27 ppg) to 13 points, but Simeal Wofford scored 21.
Strong Vincent 68, New Castle 43: David Morris, who has more than 2,000 career points, scored 28 to lead Strong Vincent to the Class 4A win against the WPIAL champs. Morris had only six points at halftime, but scored 17 in the third quarter when Strong Vincent turned a seven-point lead into a 15-point advantage. New Castle was shooting 45 percent from 3-point range in the playoffs, but made only 20 percent (3 of 15) in this game. Marcus Hooker had 20 points for New Castle, but Geno Stone, the team's leading scorer, made only 1 of 9 shots and scored four.
Quaker Valley 77, Middletown 66: Quaker Valley's balanced attack has been evident all season and it was again in this 4A game as five players scored in double figures. Danny Conlan led with 20, Coletrane Washington added 18, Ricky Guss 13, Amos Luptak 12 and Wolfie Moser 12.
Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic 63, Central Cambria 40: North Catholic outscored Central Cambria, 46-17, in the second and third quarters and breezed to this 3A win. Kenny Fukon had 16, Vinnie DiNicola 14 and Isaiah Wilson 11 for North Catholic.
Lincoln Park 70, Washington 58: Lincoln Park's Nelly Cummings scored 23 points and moved into seventh place on the WPIAL all-time scoring list in this Class 3A game. Cummings passed Danny Fortson (2,331 points) and now has 2,344 points. He is 32 points away from sixth place, held by 1955 Wampum graduate Don Hennon. The win sets up a semifinal rematch with North Catholic. Lincoln Park lost to North Catholic in the WPIAL final.
Sewickley Academy 61, Greensburg Central Catholic 46: Sewickley Academy was ahead in this Class 2A game by five at halftime, but broke things open when it outscored GCC, 22-12, in the third quarter. Sewickley Academy shot 53 percent from the field overall and were a sizzling 17 of 26 from two-point range. Justin Pryor scored 19 for Sewickley and Nate Ridgeway 13. Chris Groetsch was held to 4.
Bishop Canevin 66, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart 60: The Crusaders jumped to a 15-point halftime lead and held off a rally by OLSH in a 2A game. Walter Bonds and Kellan Gustine combined for seven 3-pointers. Bonds finished with 24 points and Gustine 12. Mitchell King added 14 and Julian Bonds (Walter's twin brother) 12.
Monessen 74, Saltsburg 34: Saltsburg had a 26-1 record, but you really have to wonder about this team's competition after it was walloped by the WPIAL Class 1A champ Greyhounds. Jaden Altomore scored 27 for Monessen.