Penn Hills End Pine-Richland’s Run As WPIAL Champions
The Pine-Richland boys’ basketball team were in search of their third straight WPIAL championship on Saturday night at the Petersen Events Center.
Penn Hills were in search to return the program back to its glory days and win its first WPIAL championship since 2003 and fifth in school history.
The Indians were the ones that got to add to their legacy with a 60-56 win against the Rams.
Just like they did in the semifinals, Penn Hills erased a halftime deficit, this time of seven points, to come out on top. The Indians were led by seniors Daivon Stephens and Cory Fulton, who both finished with 23 points. Stephens also registered 11 rebounds while Fulton did most of his damage in the second half, scoring 16 points. Stephens was a first team all-section and Fulton was a second team pick.
The tide of the game changed in the third quarter when Penn Hills outscored Pine-Richland, 17-8. Once they the Indians took the lead, they did not relinquish it.
Penn Hills was 19 of 35 from the field (54 percent) and made a living at the free-throw line going 21 of 31 (67 percent). Pine-Richland was 20 of 54 (37 percent) and struggled from beyond the arc, on converting 5 of 17 (29 percent)
Pine-Richland out-rebounded Penn Hills, 40-27, but lost the turnover battle, 17-13.
The Rams were led by their two first-team all-section players, junior Dan Petcash and senior Phil Jurkovec. Jurkovec finished with a team-high 18 points and 11 rebounds. Petcash added 12 points.
Penn Hills improves to 23-3 and will play Fox Chapel, the sixth place team out of the WPIAL, in the first round of the PIAA playoffs on Saturday at a site and time to be determined. This will be the third meeting between the section opponents this year. They split the first two with each team winning on the road.
Pine-Richland drops to 20-6 and will play Central Catholic, the fifth place team in the WPIAL, in the first round. This will also be the third meeting of the season between the two teams with each team winning on the road. The site and time is still to be determined.