Grove City’s strong shooting bounces Dragons from playoffs
OIL CITY, Pa. – The Warren Dragons knew they would need to have a very good night on offense to beat Grove City in the District 10 Class 4A quarterfinals, but perhaps even they couldn’t envision just how efficient their opponents would be.
Logan Lutz was the beneficiary of some great guard play by the Eagles, putting up 30 points, as Grove City ended the Dragons’ season, 73-56 on Thursday at Oil City High School.
“We talked about how we needed to score early to give ourselves a chance to settle because I felt they would score the ball and we would have to keep up,” said Warren coach Jeff Berdine.
Despite a slow start offensively themselves, the Dragons were within 9, 17-8, after a 3 from Jake Kupchella with just nine seconds left in the first quarter.
Brady Callahan came down and hit a 3 of his own at the buzzer to give GC (15-8) a 20-8 lead.
“We were trying to buy a couple of minutes in zone before we had to go man,” Berdine said about his team’s game plan defensively. “Offensively for us, other than the first quarter, I didn’t think we were too bad.”
The Dragons (12-10) weren’t able to get the game back under single digits the rest of the game.
Grove City’s guards, specifically Marcos Cintron and Kade Persinger, were excellent in dribble penetration, and created plenty of good looks for their teammates, specifically Lutz.
“Thirteen (Persinger) and 11 (Cintron) were able to get by us and create shots for other people,” Berdine said. “Lutz had 30 points and most of them were inside of five feet where he got the ball off dribble penetration and laid it in.”
Devin McMeans hit a 3-pointer early in the second quarter for the Dragons and Caleb Ei had an old-school 3-point play, but Grove City’s offense was just too much to handle.
A drive to the bucket by Aidan Morrison with 33 seconds left in the half made it 38-22, but GC’s Caden Mattock, who finished with 15 points, made it back-to-back quarters with a made shot at the buzzer, sending the Eagles into the locker room up 18.
And despite being held to nine points, 11 under his season average, Cintron was very effective.
“With them, you have to pick your poison,” Berdine said. “We held the Cintron kid, I don’t know if it was holding him or not, to 9 points. But he and 13 did a great job of getting by their guy and creating shots for other people.
Penetrate to pass, that’s exactly what we teach, and they did a good job.”
Warren’s offense was the equal of Grove City’s in the second half, but the Eagles were more than happy to trade baskets at that point.
Three consecutive buckets by Mitch Grosch, Kupchella and Ben Berdine, two of which were layups created by the Dragons’ pressing defense, created a mini run of sorts, getting Warren back to within 16, 55-39, but a Lutz layup just before the third-quarter buzzer thwarted that momentum.
“We outscored them in the second half, which was good, but they were just trading baskets with us, trying to make sure they scored enough points to keep us at bay,” coach Berdine noted.
The fourth quarter was more of the same, with Griffin Suppa, Morrison, Grosch, and McMeans all hitting shots for the Dragons. They were unable to make any sort of serious push, however.
Grove City simply wouldn’t allow them.
“In terms of the quality of guard play that we’ve seen this year, I thought 11 and 13 were better than most teams we saw,” said Berdine.
Lutz had eight rebounds to go along with his 30 points.
For Warren, Ei had six rebounds and Kupchella five, while Griffin Suppa dished out five assists and Morrison three.
Grove City now moves on to face Titusville, an 89-67 winner over George Junior Republic in the nightcap at OC.
For Warren, it was the final game for the six seniors – Suppa, Ei, McMeans, Kupchella, Morrison and Jake Funari.
“This has been a good group of kids,” Berdine said. “Now we have to turn things over to the juniors and sophomores to pick up where these kids left off.”
– – –
Morrison 3-0-0-7, Kupchella 5-1-1-12, McMeans 2-0-0-6, Ei 6-1-2-14, Suppa 1-4-4-6, Grosch 2-0-0-5, Berdine 2-0-0-4, Funari 0-0-0-0, Bablak 0-0-0-0, Arnold 0-0-0-0, Totals 22-6-7-56
GROVE CITY (73)
Callahan 2-2-2-7, Cintron 4-0-0-9, Persinger 4-4-4-12, Mattocks 6-0-0-15, Lutz 11-8-14-30, Brooks 0-0-0-0, Loughry 0-0-0-0, Dudt 0-0-0-0, Hostetler 0-0-0-0, Howard 0-0-0-0, Totals 27-14-20-73
Warren 8 14 17 17 – 56
Grove City 20 20 17 16 – 73
Three-point FGs: Warren (6) – McMeans 2, Morrison, Kupchella, Grosch, Ei; Grove City (5) – Mattocks 3, Callahan, Cintron