The rivals from the Mercer County Athletic Conference advanced to the Class A District 10 final.
By BILL ALBRIGHT
MEADVILLE, Pa. -- When the Class A District 10 basketball champion is determined Friday, one thing is certain -- the winner will be a representative of the Mercer County Athletic Conference.
The Kennedy Catholic and West Middlesex teams set the stage for the all-MCAC final, as the Big Reds breezed past Sheffield 70-53 Tuesday and the Golden Eagles clobbered Rocky Grove 77-31, to advance as opponents into the showdown.
The time and site for the final will be announced by District 10 officials.
Although Kennedy Catholic won by nearly 50 points after leading by 20 at the break, coach Tim Loomis was anything but happy.
"We started off well, but then we stood around," Loomis said. "When you don't play aggressive with the traps and rotate well, anybody can stand out there and shoot the ball.
"But things did pick up in the second half," Loomis said. "I was more upset with the fact that we were making one or two passes, then standing out there shooting jump shots, and that is not the way we play."
Better half: As difficult as the first half was for Loomis to watch, the second half proved to be much better for his Eagles.
"Our intensity came back in the third quarter when we had to shut them down," Loomis said.
Although the outing wasn't one of the better ones for the Eagles (22-4), they still scored 77 points. Leading the way was the high-scoring duo of Dan McElhinny and Nolan Reimold with 27 and 18 points, respectively.
For Rocky Grove (15-11), Garrett McCandless was the only Oriole to hit doubles with 10 points.
As for his team possibly looking ahead to their third meeting of the season with West Middlesex (20-6), Loomis said, "We could [not] care less who we play. We prepare for a game the same way whether it is UCLA or Sheffield. They might think it is a big game to play us, but again, we don't really care who we play. They are just another team in our road to get another state championship."
Consistency on defense was one thing Loomis had been looking for from his team earlier in the season, and he feels the Eagles are where they want to be. Kennedy Catholic has defeated its two opponents in the district tournament by a combined 97 points.
"Athletically, some of these teams have a difficult time of matching up with us," Loomis said. "We have been playing consistent defense for the past 10 or 12 games and it is not easy to score on us now."
West Middlesex-Sheffield: Sheffield (19-7) hung around on the Big Reds through the scoring efforts of Robin Copley, who scored nine of his team-high 14 points in the opening period.
The Wolverines kept their deficit within the 10-12 point range for most of the game until the Big Reds scored the final nine points.
Even though his team won easily, West Middlesex coach Chad Mild wasn't extremely happy with what he saw from his club.
"I thought that [tight officiating] might have taken a little bit of aggressiveness away from us, but the bottom line is that we didn't play well," Mild said.
"I think we looked past this game a little bit, with all of the hype of meeting Kennedy again and I was very disappointed with our effort."
Five players hit for doubles, led by Nate Luce with 14 and Jake Buzard with 13.
For Sheffield, Copley matched Luce for game-high honors with his 14 points.