Bethel Park guns down USC, 72-48
How in sync were the members of the Bethel Park boys’ basketball team as they gunned down rival Upper St. Clair, 72-48, in a key Section 4-AAAA clash? So in tune that they simultaneously answered post-game questions with the same words.
“Confidence,” said both Joe Mascaro and Josh Krafczynski in response to why they shot so well. The Hawks buried 12, 3-point field goals in route to victory. Krafczynski knocked down five and finished with 19 tallies. Mascaro tickled the twine for a game-high 26 markers, 12 on baskets beyond the arc.
“When you start to get hot, you just let it go,” Mascaro continued.
“We knew we would have to play together and play hard,” explained Krafczynski.
Indeed, for the Hawks were facing the top club in the section. The Panthers gained the upper hand when they beat Trinity while BP dropped back-to-back games to Canon-McMillan and Mt. Lebanon. Against the Blue Devils, the Hawks scored just 32 points.
“We were flat. We had no energy,” Krafczynski said of those two road losses that dropped the Hawks to 11-4 overall. They are 6-3 in the division and trail USC and Canon-Mac by one game. Both are 6-2 in the section and 10-5 overall.
“We really competed hard against Canon-Mac and against Lebo we were worn out,” explained BP floor boss Ben O’Connor. “We really didn’t have time to prepare anything.”
So O’Connor just let his Hawks play.
“I wouldn’t say we took the handcuffs off but I told them to go play. What you saw was BP guys being comfortable. That was just BP kids worry about what BP kids can do.
“That’s what we are about. It was about Bethel Park, not USC and our kids taking care of business.”
After USC jumped ahead, 7-0, BP rallied behind its sharpshooting. The Hawks connected on six, 3-pointers as they erased the deficit. They reeled off 21 straight points and sprinted to a 24-12 advantage. BP stretched the margin to 45-30 by intermission.
Though USC closed to within 10 points, the Hawks used a 9-1 run, fueled by Krafczynski’s 5-point performance, to end the third quarter with a 56-38 advantage.
In addition to Mascaro and Krafczynski, R.J. Pfeuffer and Jake Dixon each tossed in eight points while Jake Murphy finished with seven tallies.
For the Panthers, who fell into a tie for first place with a 6-2 record, J.J. Conn dropped in 12 markers. Andrew Wheeler and Zach Staley followed with 10 points each.
“We played poorly in all phases of the game. We did not rebound. We did not defend. We did everything you are supposed to do to lose a game,” said a dejected Dan Holzer.
“Give them credit though,” continued the USC skipper. “They shot lights out. They were very impressive. They kicked our tails.”
But, O’Connor took little credit for the victory. Plus, he knows with games at Moon, Peters Township and Trinity as well as the rematch with Lebo on Jan. 31, the season is far from over and the Hawks can only ride the USC victory for so long.
“When you shoot the ball well, it makes coaches look good,” O’Connor said. “There’s no magic potion.
“It’s a long season and our only goal is to get better every day because this section is so even, a battle every night.”