By Pete Chiodo
March 2, 2013 7:00 a.m. SLIPPERY ROCK —
Championship games don’t come any better than this one.
The Lakeview and West Middlesex boys basketball teams went blow for blow for 52 minutes of intense action. And at the end it was the Big Reds who finally pulled away for the victory, 71-65 in five overtimes — five! — in the District 10 Class AA championship game Friday at Slippery Rock University’s Morrow Fieldhouse.
“You know what,” said Lakeview head coach Gary Burke, “when I started this journey 13 years ago, the only thing I could have asked for is for the kids to buy into what I was selling and to give their heart and soul for each other and for the program. And (on Friday) they did it. They did it.
“We’ve had a lot of great teams over the years, and this team just overwhelmed me with what they determined to do. What a tremendous effort. And I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Both teams had chances to win it. West Middlesex had the final possession at the end of regulation, but couldn’t cash in. It ended in a 46-46 tie. Same with the first overtime, which ended at 48-48. Same with the second, which ended 53-53. Each time, the Big Reds held onto the ball and drained time off the clock, looking for the game-winning shot. But both times, Lakeview’s defense got the stop.
In the third overtime, West Middlesex led by three (59-56) with time running out. But Lakeview’s Casey Greggs swished in a 3-pointer from the wing to knot the score once again.
“We wanted to foul (Greggs),” said West Middlesex head coach Chad Mild. “We didn’t get there in time and the kid hit a 3.”
At the end of the fourth overtime, Middlesex again tried for a last shot. Lakeview again got the stop. And the Sailors’ Dalton Boggs got the rebound with just enough time remaining and streaked down the court on a fast break. His layup didn’t fall, however. And the contest went into the fifth overtime tied 61-61.
West Middlesex started the fifth OT by scoring four straight points to grab a 65-61 lead. And shortly after, Greggs fouled out. That put three Sailors starters — Greggs, Coty Gander and Brandon Rice — on the bench with five fouls. West Middlesex had all five starters in the game. And the Big Reds used that advantage to pull away for the victory.
“Wow, is all I can say,” said Mild. “I don’t even know how many overtimes it was. We lost count after two. I was proud of my kids. We did what we had to do. We never quit. We were down nine at one point and my kids didn’t falter. They showed a lot of heart. Both teams played a heck of a game.”
Middlesex superstar Matt Dogan ended the game with a whopping 36 points. His teammate, Trey Staunch, finished with 16. Jeremy Jancso had a dozen.
For Lakeview, Boggs tallied 25 points. Greggs followed with 16. Gander had 10.
As D-10 champion, West Middlesex (22-3) advances to the PIAA championship tournament as the No. 1. seed. The Big Reds will host the seventh seed out of District 7.
Lakeview (21-4) also moves on. The Sailors will take on the fourth seed from District 7.
Both games will be on March 9 at a site and time to be determined.