Conemaugh Valley defeats Bishop McCort for spot in PIAA Class 1A tournament

Feb. 29—Both Conemaugh Valley and visiting Bishop McCort Catholic faced a win-or-go-home scenario in Wednesday night's District 6 Class 1A boys basketball consolation game.

Although a district championship was no longer in the cards for either club, a state playoff berth was still at stake.

The matchup was tightly contested and featured several swings in momentum, but the Blue Jays were able to put together the decisive run down the stretch and pull away in the final minutes for a 69-60 victory over the Crimson Crushers.

Conemaugh Valley (20-5) moves on to face the District 5 champion in the first round of the PIAA tournament on March 8, while Bishop McCort closed out an 11-14 campaign.

The Blue Jays broke a 50-all fourth-quarter tie with a 9-2 run capped off by a Jeremy Dietz putback with 4:10 remaining, but the Crimson Crushers answered and eventually closed within 62-60 on Nick Dressick's driving bucket at the 1:50 mark.

Conemaugh Valley proceeded to hold Bishop McCort scoreless from that point, and the Blue Jays' Jaylen Henry then buried a corner 3-pointer to ignite a surge of seven straight to seal the outcome.

"The whole goal was to stay disciplined," said first-year Blue Jays coach Tre'von Williams. "It was a tough game, but once we stayed disciplined after we took the lead, we got the result that we wanted.

"Defense was the key. We made a defensive adjustment at halftime and after that, we did what we were supposed to do."

Dietz tallied 11 of his game-high 28 in the fourth quarter for Conemaugh Valley, which also got 19 from Landon Percinsky and 11 from Bryton Yackulich.

"We always believed we could win," Dietz said. "There was never a doubt in our minds. Throughout the game, we kept on at it and pulled away. Now it's onto states, can't wait for it."

The Crimson Crushers got off to a blistering start in the early moments of the game. Shakile Ferguson, who finished with a team-leading 18 points, scored nine during an 11-0 first-quarter run that staked Bishop McCort to an eight-point lead.

"We came out and had the hot start we wanted," Bishop McCort coach Chris Pfeil said, "but they took the punch and got right back in the game."

Conemaugh Valley closed to within 13-10 on a Dietz triple in the final minute of the first quarter, and the Blue Jays came on strong in the second to eventually go up 28-22 on a Percinsky drive at the 2:10 mark.

However, the Crimson Crushers proceeded to capitalize on several Blue Jays turnovers en route to scoring eight unanswered points to regain a 30-28 edge on a Mason Pfeil layup.

Mike Preuss, who finished with 14 for the Crimson Crushers, scored in the final seconds of the half to send his team to the break with a two-point advantage.

The third quarter saw the score tied twice before Bishop McCort opened up a 40-36 lead on a Preuss putback, but Conemaugh Valley subsequently erased that deficit following 3-pointers by Yackulich and Percinsky.

Bishop McCort went back on top 45-44 on a pair of Ferguson free throws prior to two Dietz free throws and a Yackulich jumper giving Conemaugh Valley a 48-45 lead heading into the decisive fourth quarter.

"Give them credit," Pfeil said.

"They hit a lot of shots down the stretch, and we couldn't buy a bucket."