Top-seed Moon too much for Valley boys
WEST MIFFLIN — Devising a way to cage the balanced attack of Moon’s boys basketball team has been a challenge few opponents have met.
Valley was the latest victim as the No. 1 seed Tigers ripped off an 82-60 win in the first round of the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs Wednesday night at West Mifflin High School.
Moon’s five starters each scored at least 10 points, and the Tigers topped their scoring average of 68.4 points per game in the fast-paced contest.
Moon, the defending WPIAL and state AAA champion, improved to 20-4 and will take on Elizabeth Forward (17-7) in the quarterfinals Friday or Saturday at a site and time to be determined.
Valley slipped to 11-12.
“We have almost five guys who average double figures,” Moon head coach Jeff Ackermann said. “We have four who are over 10 and a fifth who is around 9.2. That’s why we’ve been good. It’s like in the first quarter when Zack Engel had 12 points, then he had only two the rest of the way. But that’s okay. Other guys picked up the scoring.”
Jason Clark led Moon with 17 points, including 11 in the second half. He was followed in points by Dan Walsh (15), Zack Engel (14), Derek Gallagher (13) and Tyler Hersperger (10). Gallagher added 11 rebounds and seven assists, and Clark grabbed seven rebounds.
“Moon is very well schooled,” Valley head coach Vern Benson said. “They can penetrate and then kick the ball out. Their guards are their strength. They have four-guard offense, and they try to spread you out on defense.”
Valley’s Ian Benson, the coach’s son, scored a game-high 21 points. Jon Stuck and Andrew Barker each contributed 10 points.
Valley kept pace with Moon through most of the first quarter. But the Tigers broke open the game with a 20-6 run from the final minutes of the first quarter until halftime. Moon used numerous turnovers to pull away.
“We had opportunities to score, but we didn’t take advantage,” coach Benson said. “There were times we went in for the shot and had it blocked or threw a crazy pass.”
Throughout the game, both teams played an up-tempo style and raced up and down the court.
“Valley is very athletic,” Ackermann said. “We knew they could go. We wanted to play up-tempo, too. We were a little rusty at first. But give Valley credit, they are quick. They will be a team to be reckoned with in the future.”
Valley made the playoffs for the second consecutive season. The Vikings will return three starters next season ^ guard/forward Nate Robinson, forward Tyler Santucci, and point guard and leading scorer Ian Benson.
“This was a tough one, but we‚ll get back to the drawing board soon,” coach Benson said.
Class AAA first round
Moon 82, Valley 60
Valley: 16 6 14 24 — 60
Moon: 21 16 16 29 — 82
Valley (60) Ian Benson 9 0-0 21, Andrew Barker 4 2-2 10, Jon Stuck 4 2-4 10, Toney Clemons 3 1-1 7, Nate Robinson 2 1-3 5, Justin Lookabaugh 1 0-0 3, Lacy Ponsart 1 0-0 2, Tyler Santucci 1 0-0 2. Totals: 25 6-10 60.
Moon (82): Jason Clark 8 0-0 17, Dan Walsh 4 7-10 15, Zack Engel 4 4-5 14, Derek Gallagher 5 3-4 13, Tyler Hersperger 5 0-0 10, Chris Jeannot 2 0-0 4, Andy Dowdell 1 0-0 3, Alex Laipple 0 2-2 2, Michael Battles 0 2-2 2, Brian Walsh 1 0-0 2. Totals: 30 18-23 82.
3-pointers: V: Benson (3), Lookabaugh. M: Engel (2), Clark, Dowdell.
Records: V: 11-12. M: 20-4.