Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Hempfield Goes Distance to Clinch

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Hempfield Goes Distance to Clinch

Article excerpt

Hempfield needed a win Jan. 29 against Albert Gallatin to clinch a playoff spot in Class AAAA Section 1.

The Spartans managed that and more.

The team netted a school-record 20 3-pointers, going 20 of 25 from beyond the arc and scoring 32 baskets total to win, 90-72. Hempfield is 5-6 in fourth place (8-13 overall).

A first-time starter led the charge. Zak Mesich had been the sixth man all season until coach Bill Swan had a "hunch" he should put Mesich in the first five. The junior guard scored a game-high 28 points, including nine 3-pointers.

"I told him after the game when I hugged him, I said, 'You made me look smart for once,'" Swan said.

Mesich missed just two 3's in that game while teammate junior guard Zach Queen was 5 for 7. In Hempfield's next game, a 60-58 win Jan. 30 against Indiana, Mesich and Queen combined again to score all the team's 3-pointers, five each.

While the 20 3-pointers isn't quite a WPIAL record, it ranks as one of the top shooting performances. Swan said he always thought shooting would be his team's strength this season despite bringing back just one starter, who hurt his ankle in the third section game of the season.

"It's just a night where we got a lot of good looks, and they went in," Swan said. "The way we've shot the ball at home this year is amazing compared to how we've shot it on the road, and I think that's something with a young team."

Perfect no more

Latrobe was one of just three undefeated teams left in the WPIAL.

New Castle and Aliquippa will have to carry on the torch now.

The Wildcats lost in an upset Jan. 26 at Norwin, falling 72-57 and scoring the least amount of points all season.

The now second-leading scorer in the WPIAL, Latrobe junior guard Austin Butler, scored 22 points when he averages more than 26. Norwin's senior guard Gage McCracken scored a game-high 26 points and said his team learned from a 74-51 loss to Latrobe earlier in the season, and the Knights sped up their transition and defense to take over in the second half. …

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