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WPIAL

Rodney Gallagher Leads Laurel Highlands to WPIAL 5A Title in 2-OT Thriller

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PITTSBURGH — To cap off a full slate of playoff games at the Petersen Events Center on Friday, Laurel Highlands and New Castle delivered an instant classic that resulted in a double-overtime championship victory for Laurel Highlands, 60-58.

After a back and forth battle throughout regulation, Laurel Highlands’ Rodney Gallagher had a chance to finish his already-strong performance off, but saw his half courter rattle off the backboard, sending the game to a first overtime.

In that overtime period, the two teams battled. New Castle, behind hard-nosed guard Mike Wells, and Laurel Highlands behind Gallagher, Keondre Deshields, and Brandon Davis.

With just seconds remaining, trailing by three, New Castle’s Isaiah Boice knocked down the biggest shot of the game, a game-tying three ball off a set play to tie things up at 52. After Gallagher missed another game-winning half-court attempt, the game was headed to a second extra period.

Fast forward to 13 seconds left in double OT, and the game is tied at 58. Deshields, after missing a go-ahead free throw in the first overtime, came out in the second OT and hit three big-time buckets. The Mustangs now had the ball and were coming out of a timeout.

Every single fan in the packed Petersen Events Center knew who was going to take the potential game-winning shot:

Gallagher.

The two-sport standout led Laurel Highlands all night, and had 24 points through the first overtime. With 13 seconds left, Gallagher spun into the lane, drove to the basket, and was fouled on his way up to the rim. 0.3 seconds left, and Gallagher was stepping to the line with a WPIAL title sitting at the bottom of the net. At that point, he had flashbacks to his freshman year, when he was in the exact same scenario: at the free-throw line with seconds to go with the chance to win the WPIAL.

“Yeah, I did [think of that], but I’ll tell you this,” Gallagher said. “I definitely wasn’t as nervous as I was my freshman year. I felt actually comfortable because everybody was down there telling me just to calm down and I made sure the crowd was going to calm down because I just wanted to really focus, but I definitely wasn’t as nervous as I was the first time.”

Gallagher stepped up and confidently sank both. The Mustangs were champions once again.

He finished with a team-high 26 points on 8-for-20 shooting, while Deshields followed with a strong 18 points and 11 rebounds. Behind him, Davis added 12 points and six boards to secure the victory.

For New Castle, Michael Wells led the way with 23 points on 8-for-17 shooting. Jonathan Anderson followed with 16 points, and hit three of his four three-point attempts. Lastly, Boice, who hit the big shot in the first overtime, concluded with 14 in the effort.

“A team like that, that’s won so many championships, they know what they’re doing,” Laurel Highlands head coach Rich Hauger said about New Castle. “We knew it was going to be a grind, as Rodney said, and we got a little bit of that in a fe of the games prior, and I think our guys were prepared for that.”

Laurel Highlands struggled from deep, hitting just 2 of its 12 three-point attempts. However, the Mustangs won this one in the paint, scoring 38 points in the lane in the win.

“I don’t even have words, it’s crazy,” Davis said after the game. “Just playing with my team, I went out there and had fun with my team. Just played hard, just played hard and wanted to come out with the win. We went 24-0, and we knew we wanted to get there. There was no point of doing all that just to lose here, so we just wanted to get this win tonight.”

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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David
David
8 months ago

That was a truly great game. I’m an alum of LH so obviously I wanted them to win but you have to still feel for the kids from New Castle who battled like hell but had to come up 2nd. Hope both do well in states

Steve
Steve
8 months ago

Awful foul call and have no dog in the fight

Dukes

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