Greensburg Salem rallies late for win
When Franklin Regional’s basketball team appeared to have control of the game, Greensburg Salem rallied in the fourth quarter to record a 67-64 victory during the first round of the Hempfield Spartan Tip-off Tournament on Friday night.
Aaron Allen led Greensburg Salem with 18 points; teammate Chris Klimchock added 17. Dylan Pavlik led Franklin Regional with 17.
“It was a great opening to the season,” Greensburg Salem coach Paul Sapotichne said. “Franklin Regional is a very good team. Coach (Doug) Kelly does a great job. We respect them a whole lot. We knew it was going to be a very difficult game. I thought we were a little nervous at the beginning, but once we got over that we played pretty well. I thought our defense in the second half was outstanding. We kept tipping the ball away and didn’t let them run their offense. They are a good team, and it was nice to get a win in the first game of the season.”
Franklin Regional jumped out front early and stayed there, leading, 15-6, with four minutes left in the first quarter. With a little more than a minute-and-a-half left in the first quarter, Greensburg Salem closed the gap and tied the game at 15 on a shot by Allen.
Franklin Regional bounced back into the lead by the end of the first quarter and in the second jumped out to a 25-19 lead.
While Greensburg Salem tried to fight back, Franklin Regional continued to open a gap, thanks in part to Dino DeFlavio, who added seven points in a key second-quarter stretch where Franklin Regional went up, 33-25.
At the half, Franklin Regional led, 34-25.
In the third quarter, Greensburg Salem turned up its defense and tied the game at 38 with three minutes left in the quarter.
“(Greensburg Salem) defends just like they did in the second half and that is what a Greensburg Salem team does,” Kelly said. “Our offense went stale in the third quarter, it’s been our problem since last year and we talked about that especially at halftime. We missed some easy baskets, but I’ve got to give Greensburg credit for their defense too.”
With six minutes left in the game, Greensburg Salem got its first lead of the game. Jake Matthews drove to the basket on a layup to give Greensburg Salem a 47-46 edge.
“(Franklin) played very well at the beginning and I don’t think we played as well as we should have,” Sapotichne said. “And then we had to fight back. I watched the film from when we played them two years ago and we got down early and we were able to fight back and get a close win. I told the kids at halftime that this game was similar to the game we played against them two years ago. We came back two years ago and we can do it again this time as long as we stay the course and do what we are supposed to do.”
With a few key steals from Reggie Hainsworth and solid offense from Allen, Klimchock and Matthews, the Golden Lions weathered a few late offensive rushes from Franklin Regional to get the win for Greensburg Salem.
“We really got good contributions from Jake Matthews and Reggie Hainsworth, who made two key steals at the end of the game that really changed everything. He’s a good defensive player,” Sapotichne said.
Franklin Regional coach Kelly doesn’t like to see his team lose, but he also sees these type of games as building blocks.
“These are the types of games that can really build character, especially if you’re playing late in season and the playoffs. These games are important. We have 14 section games and anything we get right now is gravy and we’re going to build some character. Tomorrow we got McKeesport. It’s going to build character for this team.”
The tournament continues at 4:30 p.m. today when Franklin Regional plays McKeesport, followed by Greensburg Central Catholic vs. Norwin at 6:15 and Greensburg Salem vs. Hempfield at 8.