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Farabaugh, Mt. Lebanon Outwork Butler to Advance to Semifinals



MT. LEBANON – Riley Farabaugh arrived at the Mt. Lebanon gym around 5:00 prior to his team’s 8:00 p.m. quarterfinals matchup against Butler. After Mt. Lebanon celebrated a 55-50 win over Butler, Farabaugh exited his team’s locker room, ball in hand, and returned to the court to put in extra work. 

On a night that brought in No. 5 Butler (14-8, 5-6) that has a dominant one-two punch in Braylon Littlejohn and Donavan Carney, it was Farabaugh who put together a quiet but pivotal performance for the No. 4 Blue Devils (16-7, 9-2) to help them advance to the WPIAL Class 6A semifinals. 

Players like Farabaugh are a testament to postseason high school basketball as it brings out the best in teams. Sometimes it isn’t always about the flashy plays or the thrilling moments, but sometimes it’s about the small details and the hard work. That hard work paid off for Farabaugh who finished with a team-high 17 points.

“He’s our hardest worker,” head coach Joey David said. “I told him, what you put in, you’re going to get out. It was no accident that he did that because he works his tail off.”

As Farabaugh shot free throws while the patrons dispersed and the maintenance crew cleaned up around him, it was his work from the free throw line in the fourth quarter that paid dividends for Mt. Lebanon. The junior nailed six free throws in the final frame, including two that put the Blue Devils up by five with 10 seconds left to play.

“I always know there’s someone out there who’s trying to get better than me,” Farabaugh said. “It always feels good to see it pay off.”

Through it all, there was a coolness to Farabaugh that helped him seal the deal for the Blue Devils.

“I just take myself back to that practice line. I like to picture myself with the court I shoot outside. Maybe the winds blowing a little bit, it doesn’t matter. I calm my nerves and hold that follow through and sink that shot.”

The free throws Farabaugh added to pad the lead in the final handful of seconds allowed Mt. Lebanon to breathe a little easier. Butler was no easy task as the Golden Tornado was equipped with the highest scoring offense in the classification, averaging 65.7 point per game. 

Butler started the game off hot and running. Donovan Carney buried seven points before the crowd even settled into their seats as Mt. Lebanon tried to keep up with the fast-paced offense.  

Trailing by seven entering the second quarter, the Blue Devils made an adjustment defensively and slowed down Butler to pull it back to an even game. The Blue Devils speed and feistiness proved to be an obstacle for Butler.

“I think we are getting better defensively,” David said. “I don’t think we are a great, great defensive team, but I think we’ve improved significantly, and we had to be in the gaps.”

In a tightly contested battle, Butler’s stars threw everything they had at the Blue Devils. Littlejohn dropped 10 of his 19 total points in the second half. Carney knocked down two clutch threes in the fourth quarter to keep it a close game. In the end, it was Mt. Lebanon’s defense that made an extra stop against the Golden Tornado’s potent offense.

“I think we did a good enough job of stopping them,” Farabaugh said. “We got in the gaps to keep them out of the lane. We struggled there in the fourth quarter, but that’s what basketball is. You have your ups and downs, and when we needed to we got those stops, and that’s all that matters.”

Mt. Lebanon’s ability to contain Littlejohn and Carney was the key as the Blue Devils advance to the next round. 

“I thought [we] showed a lot of heart,” David said. “This is our fifth time in the semifinals in the last six years. That means a lot about our program and a lot about our players.”

In the winning effort, the Blue Devils also saw Brody Barber hit double digits with 12 points, along with nine points from Tanner Donati and eight points from Liam Sheely.

The next stop for Mt. Lebanon comes against the top team in 6A as New Castle took care of Norwin, 59-47.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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