ST. JOSEPH'S PREP 67, COATESVILLE 43
A sign of things to come occurred on the game's first possession, when a pair of St. Joseph's Prep players cornered a startled ballhandler near the sideline and caused him to step out of bounds.
The Prep's combination defense, which mixes man-to-man and zone principles, frustrated Coatesville to no end in Saturday afternoon's PIAA Class AAAA quarterfinal playoff at William Tennent.
Forcing 20 turnovers and getting 31 points from senior guard Steve Vasturia, the Hawks dismantled the way-out-of-sync Red Raiders, 67-43, and earned a spot in Tuesday's semifinal round versus two-time defending champion Chester.
"Our defense has been real good lately," Prep coach Speedy Morris said. "We had four tapes on Coatesville. We were prepared for them. There were no secrets."
Ahead by 41-34 early in the fourth quarter, the Hawks, who converted 27 of their 32 free-throw tries, broke the contest open with a 15-0 run. Coatesville went four minutes without scoring.
"We knew they were fast and talented," Vasturia said. "We just wanted to contain them, slow them down a bit. We wanted to execute the things we had practiced."
The Notre Dame-bound Vasturia shot 8 for 17 from the field (2 for 8 from beyond the arc) and a perfect 13 for 13 from the line. He added seven rebounds, four steals, and two assists in 31 minutes.
"He's unbelievable," Morris said. "He's our best scorer, our best defender, our best rebounder. And he's so unselfish. We'll miss him so much when he leaves."
Senior lead guard P.J. Kelly, sophomore forward Chris Clover, and junior wing guard Kyle Thompson each contributed eight points to the victory.
"We just dug in, played as hard as we could the whole time," Vasturia said. "In states, it's all about getting the win and moving on."
In their 15-0 burst, which started with Kelly's three-pointer from up top and included Miles Overton's driving layup, the Hawks were 10 for 10 from the charity stripe.
Afterward, Rick Nelms, who is stepping down as Coatesville's coach, expressed his displeasure with the officiating crew from District 3. Two of his players were hit with technical fouls.
"The first half was consistent refereeing," he said. "The second half was. … Wow, I don't know what to say about it. I'm numb."
The Red Raiders (25-8) shot 15 for 39 from the floor (5 for 19 on treys). Seniors Emmett Hunt and Howard Sellars managed 13 and 11 points, respectively.
Of Vasturia, Hunt said, "He's an excellent player. There's a reason why he's going to Notre Dame. He can do a little bit of everything."
St. Joseph's Prep 9 16 16 26-67
Coatesville 7 14 11 11-43
SJP: P.J. Kelly 8, Steve Vasturia 31, Chris Clover 8, Kyle Thompson 8, Miles Overton 5, Dan Nedbal 5, Mark Hueber 2.
C: Howard Sellars 11, Andre Boggs 5, Jaquan Hollingshed 1, Emmett Hunt 13, Leroy Hoggard 3, Chris Jones 4, Aaris Parker 6.