Bonnaure leads Lions past Titans, 40-34
There was no need for Rich Bonnaure to apologize. His son, Evan, was the best player on the court when South Fayette defeated West Mifflin, 40-34, in a WPIAL Class AAA boys’ basketball playoff game at Baldwin.
The younger Bonnaure exploded for 16 points, 12 off four, 3-point field goals. He also was saddled with defending the Titans’ top scorer, Ryan Maha. An 18-point-per-game scorer, Maha was held to 10 tallies. He scored six in the final minute of play on long-range shots to make things exciting. West Mifflin twice closed SF’s comfortable 10-point bulge to six, 38-31, at 59.1 and 40-34, with 3.1 to play.
“Evan was one top of his game,” said Bonnaure. Then quickly the SF floor boss, who doubles as Evan’s dad, added, “am I allowed to say that?
But, Evan did play well. “He did a good job on Ryan Maha and he shot the ball well,” continued Bonnaure. “We had a good mix to get him wide open. When he gets his feet set, then Evan’s on offensively.”
His two, 3-point field goals coupled by five points from C.J. Rudisill staked the Lions to a 13-6 lead after one frame. The margin expanded to 21-11 by halftime thanks to another trey by Bonnaure and a buzzer-beater by Nick McKee.
In the half, SF buried five, long-range shots. The Lions added a trey by Rudisill in the third quarter. The bucket coupled with a fast-break basket by Zach Challingsworth afforded the Lions breathing room against the Titans, 31-24, heading into the final frame.
Bonnaure took over in the fourth. He scored a basket, two technical fouls and his final triple for his 16th point and a 38-28 SF advantage with 2:49 to play.
Rudisill and Challingsworth each finished with eight markers.
Challingsworth, who limited WM’s Derrick Fulmore to two tallies on defense, also proved the difference between defeat and victory for the Lions, who had lost to West Mifflin, 49-34, in the second game of the season.
A Pitt recruit, Challingsworth did not play in that loss as he was recovering from a football injury. The senior also missed another SF loss (to South Park) because of a recruiting visit.
“Zach was an unsung hero,” said Bonnaure. “He’s just now really getting back into basketball form. But Zach’s always had that whatever it takes to win attitude. He gets it done.”
In order to get it done against the Titans, SF knew it would not be easy. West Mifflin only allowed 46.2 points per game during a 16-6 campaign.
“They are a very good, athletic team,” Bonnaure said. “We knew it would be a low-scoring game against a good, veteran team. We had to have better shot selection and we needed to be poised. This time, I think we did that. We showed much better poise.”
For the Lions that was imperative says Bonnaure. “You’re in a conundrum when you play them. You don’t want to waste a lot of trips with them because they are a very capable team. We like to be a transition team but when we had to go half-court, we broke it down, worked hard and something opened. We thought it best.”
With the win, the Lions now find themselves facing the best. South Fayette (14-9) will play Chartiers Valley (20-3) in a quarterfinal contest set for Friday, Feb. 22 at a site and time to be determined. The No. 1 seed in the Class AAA tournament, the Colts blasted Knoch, 77-43, in their first-round playoff game at North Allegheny.
In the contest, Michael Boulos tossed in 23 points. Matty McConnell followed with 20 tallies.
In girls playoff action, Mt. Lebanon defeated Franklin Regional, 50-30, Bethel Park pounded Norwin, 61-31, Seton-La Salle thumped Washington, 61-20, and Bishop Canevin dispatched Neshannock, 65-28.