Mike White | Friday, Feb. 27
Live championship blog from Duquesne University's Palumbo Center
8:22 p.m. - Sewickley Academy won the WPIAL Class A championship with a 71-57 victory against Serra. You won't see a better one-on-one scoring showdown than this game. Sewickley Academy's Tom Droney finished with 40 points. Serra's T.J. Heatherington had 37. Those are two of the top scoring performances in WPIAL championship history - in the same game.
Looking up on the second level of the Palumbo Center, Hampton has brought one of the largest student sections I've seen in a while. Hampton plays Highlands in the Class AAA championship at 9 p.m.
8:15 p.m. - Droney is at the line again with 30 seconds left. He makes one. He now has 40 points. Droney and Heatherington have both been taken out of the game with 21.7 seconds left. Heatherington finished with 37 points.
8:13 p.m. - Lost the internet signal here on press row for a while. Since we've been away, Sewickley Academy's Droney and Serra's Heaherington are putting on a show. With a little less than a minute left in the game, Both have 37 points. Sewickley Academy leads, 68-57. Droney is at the line for two free throws with 43 seconds left.
7:28 p.m. - It's halftime and Sewickley Academy leads Serra, 31-23. In the first half, Sewickley Academy's Tom Droney has done a little of everything offensively. He has 14 points, making 6 of 8 from the field. He has two 3-pointers and a handful of assists. Serra's T.J. Heatherington has 13 points, making 4 of 14 from the field. Heatherington needs only 11 more to move into the WPIAL's top five tournament performances of all time. He now has 111 points in four games.
A future Sewickley Academy player is sitting on the Panthers' bench - and he has a noteworthy name. He is John O'Malley, who is an eighth-grader at Sewickley Academy. His father is WPIAL Executive Director Tim O'Malley. John reputedly is a pretty fair player.
7:19 p.m. - Sewickley Academy has opened up a 28-16 lead. Droney just made another pretty pass to Schramm for a layup. Serra has called a timeout with 3:06 left in the half.
7:13 p.m. - Sewickley Academy's Droney has been awfully impressive. A 3-pointer and a pullup jumper put Sewickley ahead, 19-12, and he just made a pretty pass for a layup that gave Sewickley Academy a 21-12 advantage. Droney has 12 points and the game isn't 10 minutes old.
7:10 p.m. - The first quarter has ended in the Class A final. Sewickley Academy leads Serra, 14-9. Serra''s T.J. Heatherington and Sewickley Academy's Tom Droney both have seven points.
7:02 p.m. - Sewickley Academy is playing a man-to-man defense, or a matchup zone. Everyone is sagging into the key, with the exception of Nick Blodis, who is truly guarding Heatherington. It's apparent Sewickley Academy wants to stop his penetration. Droney just hit a 3-pointer to answer Heatherington's second 3-pointer. Sewickley Academy leads, 12-7, with 3:07 left in the first quarter.
7:00 p.m. - First possession of the game and T.J. Heatherington just stuck a 3-pointer in the Class A championship game. Could it be a sign of things to come? Serra is playing a zone. Tom Droney answered with a nice drive to the basket.
6:49 p.m. - A nice touch to the championship games this season is music being played in warmups and timeouts. The WPIAL has never had this before. It adds something to the games.
And the person playing the music is Amy Palko, former volleyball star at West Allegheny who now plays volleyball at Duquesne. Palko handles the music for Duquesne games also.
6:42 p.m. - The Serra-Sewickley Academy game is less than 20 minutes away. I expected Sewickley Academy to play a zone in order to shut off Serra's T.J. Heatherington penetrating to the hoop. He scored 50 in the semifinals Tuesday. But a little birdie just told me Sewickley Academy is going to play man-to-man. We can only hope Sewickley Academy's Tom Droney guards Heatherington. That is the matchup everyone wants to see.
6:38 p.m. - One of the things that's always great to see is the WPIAL basketball championships because of the many longtime fans who always come to the title games. They're getting up in age, but they help make the basketball games special. They get there early, and park themselves in the front row of the blue seats at the Palumbo Center.
Not even football gets as many longtime fans who have no allegiances to any school. They come every year just because they love it.
6:11 p.m. North Catholic defeated Mount Alvernia, 48-44, to win the Class A girls' championship. Lauren Savulchak's two free throws with 5.3 seconds left clinched the win. It is the 15th title in school history for North Catholic, the most of any school. There will be no Title IX for Mount Alvernia's girls. The Lions had won eight championships.
North Catholic was led by Savulchak's 16 points and Ashley Bellovich scored 11. Savulchak also had 14 rebounds. Kat Owunna had 14 points and 16 rebounds for Mount Alvernia. Tahlar McIntosh had 13 points and 16 rebounds. There was a reason for so many rebounds. Both teams had bad nights shooting.
6:04 p.m. - North Catholic now leads, 46-42. ... Talked to Serra junior guard Rob Heatherington before the game. He is the team's second-leading scorer with a 15.0 average, but can't play because he was thrown out of the semifinal game against Neshannock for fighting. Under WPIAL and PIAA rules, a player thrown out is ineligible to play the next game. Heatherington is disappointed, but said, "I feel the worst for my brother, more than anyone."
Heatherington's brother, T.J., is Serra's leading scorer, averaging more than 20 a game.
5:53 - Here's an unbelievable statistic. North Catholic just committed its first foul of the game. How does that happen?
5:48 p.m. - The North Catholic girls are a heavy favorite to win the Class A championship, but they are having their hands full with Mount Alvernia. The game is tied, 36-36, after three quarters. North Catholic beat Mount Alvernia twice this season.
* Can anyone shoot these days? I was here Thursday and saw Allderdice and Perry throw up a bunch of bricks in the City League championship. In this game, North Catholic is 16 of 16-53 after three quarters and Alvernia 16 of 48.
* The games are not being televised live, but they will be on Comcast "On Demand" next week. Former Oakland Catholic and West Virginia player Meg Bulger is the color commentator for all four girls' games.