Boys Basketball - Hempfield vs Belle Vernon (WCCA Showcase)
Whitlock's Buzzer Beater Forces OT, Leads Belle Vernon to 83-77 Win over Hempfield in WCCA Showcase
In a matchup that resembled a track meet for much of the game, it was fitting that it was a dead heat at the end of four quarters. But Belle Vernon had a little more kick left in their legs as they outran Hempfield for a 83-77 overtime win during the Westmoreland County Coaches Association Boys Basketball Showcase at Hempfield's Spartan Fieldhouse on Saturday, December 18.
Both teams came out firing to open the game, with Sean Gordon scoring 10 of Hempfield's 20 points, and Devin Whitlock scoring 9 of the Leopards' 16 in the opening stanza. The teams then matched point totals with 18 each in the second quarter. Belle Vernon scored from the field, behind the arc, and from the foul line, while Hempfield did their damage on only six buckets... all 3-point shots. Hempfield held a 38-34 lead at halftime.
A first half that produced a total of only 5 combined team fouls gave way to a party at the charity stripe for Belle Vernon in the third quarter. The Leopards were awarded 12 free throw attempts, making good on 7 of them, and went into the bonus well before the quarter ran out. The Leopards only racked up two team fouls of their own in the quarter, and Hempfield came up empty on two free throw attempts. With fouls to give, Belle Vernon headed to the fourth quarter trailing 52-49 and closing quickly.
Hempfield's foul trouble allowed the Leopard to chip away at the lead, as Belle Vernon hit 8-of-10 from the line down the stretch. As Belle Vernon eventually caught the Spartans and briefly took the lead, Hempfield's 3-point game would put them back on top as time wound down. Holding a one point lead with 5.1 seconds left in regulation, Hempfield's Sean Gordon stepped to the foul line and made 1-of-2 attempts, giving the Leopards the ball back with 90 feet to cover in 5 seconds. Enter Devon Whitlock, who ran the length of the floor and scored on an up-and-under layup as the buzzer sounded, sending the contest to an extra 4 minutes of action.
Belle Vernon scored first in overtime but Gordon put the Spartans back in front with a trey and a field goal. Joe Fiedor's 3-pointer from the end of the Hempfield bench put the Spartans up 77-73 with 76 seconds on the clock. It was plenty of time for the Leopards who went to work quickly. Whitlock got the Leopard within two with just over a minute to play, then turned a steal into a game-tying layup at the 54 second mark. It was all Belle Vernon from that point on. Tyler Kovatch scored on a put back at the 30 seconds mark, then a Hempfield turnover forced the Spartans to foul Dan Gordon. Gordon made a pair of free throws with 11.7 on the clock, but the Spartans missed on their next possession and sent Gordon back to the line for two more. Gordon canned both free throws to put the final points on the board as the Leopards grabbed the victory in a hard-fought thriller between two explosive offensive teams.
Devin Whitlock led all scoring with 39 for the Leopards. Super sophomore Quinton Martin was a force in the paint the entire game for Belle Vernon, adding 23 points of his own. Hempfield's squad of long-range bombers were led by Sean Gordon with 29 ( four 3-pointers), Joe Fiedor with 21 (5 treys) and Harrison Sowers with 16 points, including 5 shots from behind the 3-point arc.
Belle Vernon (5-0, 1-0) travels to Yough for a section matchup on December 21. Hempfield (1-3, 0-0) goes on the road to Peters Township for a non-conference game on December 20.
Watch this link for a full gallery of action photos available for purchase or sharing the day after the game.
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