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Central Catholic Rides Hot Shooting, Senior Leadership to Beat Pine Richland, 60-44



PITTSBURGH — On a night when it was without its star player, Central Catholic prevailed in a battle against Pine Richland behind its senior leadership and sharp-shooting efforts.

As Dante Depante was out with a foot injury suffered in practice this week (day-to-day), the Vikings turned to their sharp shooters, rotating the ball around the perimeter against Pine Richland’s 3-2 zone.

After Pine Richland kept things close in the first half, the Vikings pulled away with third-quarter threes off the hands of Randy Wilkerson, Payton Wehner, and Tommy Kristian. Throughout the game, Wehner, the school’s quarterback on the gridiron, directed traffic on the offensive end and fed his shooters.

Once Wehner and the team’s other guards set up the shooters, Wilkerson and his counterparts made Pine Richland pay from deep. Wilkerson led the way with a game-high 16 points on four three pointers, while Kristian followed with 13 and three of his own from beyond the arch. Junior forward Cole Sullivan added 12 points inside off of several strong drives, weaving around Pine Richland’s 3-2 zone from the baseline.

“It was awesome,” Central head coach Brian Urso told Pittsburgh Sports Now. “The last two days in practice, we spent on zone offense, prepping to see zone for 32 minutes. So our guys just got comfortable, they got confident moving the ball in practice. When you can do it in practice, it carries over to tonight. Those kids didn’t miss a beat.”

“We have some pretty good seniors,” Urso continued. “Randy Wilkerson, Tommy Kristian, Patrick Newell, and [Debaba] Tshiebwe were just fabulous. Stepped up for some big shots, made some big shots. When you have senior leadership that can step in and not miss a beat, this is what happens.”

Debaba Tshiebwe cleaned up the glass throughout the night, leading the team in rebounds. In the fourth quarter, the 6-foot-7 forward — and younger brother of Kentucky star Oscar Tshiebwe — shined on the offensive end as well. He finished two layups inside and threw down a monster slam to put the Rams away.

“It gives us a lot more strength I’d say,” Wilkerson said about the win. “Mental strength. This game is one of the biggest games of the season, in all honesty. This gives us a lot more momentum going into our second game on Tuesday and into more section play.”

Pine Richland was led by sophomore guard Emery Moye, who contributed with 14 points in the loss. 6-foot senior Josh Gimbel added 12, and Carson Baer followed with 11 in Oakland.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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