Serra finishes undefeated section run with win over Jeannette
The big man in the house Friday night at Jeannette was former Jayhawk and Ohio State football standout Terrell Pryor.
Pryor returned home as part of 17-member inaugural class of the Jayhawk Athletic Hall of Fame. The class also included the 1956 Jeannette football team and six “Legends” who were inducted posthumously.
The big man on the court, however, was 6-foot-7 Serra Catholic standout Jimmy Moon. Moon paced the Eagles with a game-high 29 points to lead Class AA No. 2-ranked Serra Catholic past Section 2-AA rival Jeannette, 72-61.
“We came out very good, and we played extremely hard,” Serra Catholic coach Justin Walther said. “Every time we got a little bit of separation, they were able to come back. They’re a very good team, and they’re very well coached.”
The loss draws the curtains on Jayhawks’ regular-season schedule. Jeannette (12-10, 8-4) finished in Section 2 behind the Eagles (16-3, 11-0). Both teams await next Tuesday’s WPIAL playoff-parings meeting.
“We told the guys when you play against one of the best players in the state, you got to play hard for 32 minutes,” Jeannette coach Adrian Batts said. “I don’t think we matched their intensity early.”
Both teams were streaky, but Jeannette’s dry spells lasted too long. Jeannette sophomore guard Toby Cline drained a 3-pointer to give the Jayhawks their only lead of the game at 5-4, but the Jayhawks struggled to create and maintain momentum.
The Eagles responded with a 7-0 run before the Jeannette bench called for a timeout. It was much needed. The feeling was if the Jayhawks couldn’t match Serra Catholic shot for shot, the game could get out of have in a hurry, and it almost did.
Jeannette came out of the timeout and closed the first quarter on 6-2 run compliments of 3-pointers by AJ Sharp and Zach Crutchman. The run closed the lead to 15-13. The momentum didn’t carry over to the second quarter.
“During the timeout we just focused on what we needed to do,” Jeannette senior Marcus Barnes said. “We just realized that we can find our spark and had to keep going.”
Barnes, a William and Mary football commit, finished with a team-high 15 points, and Crutchman added 12.
The Eagles started the second quarter on a 10-2 run to go up 28-15.
Jackson Pruitt scored the Jayhawks’ first points of the second quarter with 4 minutes, 32 seconds remaining.
Pruitt came back down the floor and connected on a 3-pointer and layup on back-to-back possessions to cut the Eagles’ lead to 28-20 with just less than 3 minutes on the clock. Pruitt, Sharp and Cline chipped in with 10 points each for the Jayhawks.
The second quarter belonged to Moon. After a pedestrian first quarter, the Seton Hill commit caught fire and paced the Eagles offense with 12 points in the second.
The Eagles jumped on the Jayhawks to start the third quarter. Moon added a couple of free throws and a putback to give Serra Catholic a commanding 43-22 lead early.
Barnes ended the third-quarter drought with a traditional three-point play to cut into the Eagles’ lead at 43-25.
The Eagles’ up-tempo offense combined with the Jayhawks’ missed shots to yield a 51-30 score after three quarters.
Jeannette heated up early in the fourth after a few big baskets. Barnes had a putback off the glass to cut Serra’s lead to 55-44 with 4:48 on the clock. Pruitt, Cline and Crutchman fanned the flames with 3-pointers late, but the Jayhawks’ aggressive defense sent Eagles’ shooters to the foul line.
Bernard Lawson finished with 17 points, and Khalil Smith added 15 for Serra Catholic.
“I like the way we finished the last 10-12 minutes of the game, and hopefully we can carry that into the playoffs,” Batts said.
William Whalen is a freelance writer.